After 20 years with the US Marine Corps, I am going to be discharged in a few months. How do I transfer my benefits to my spouse or children?
In general, servicemembers can share Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits with their immediate families. In order to transfer the benefits, military personnel must have been actively serving Aug. 1 and have six years of service completed, with a commitment to serve four more years.
For most students, the benefits cover full tuition and fees at any two- or four-year public college or university at in-state tuition rates for undergraduate studies. Private schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program offer tuition breaks, financial aid or even free education to students attending college with the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Special rules have been approved for servicemembers eligible to retire before Aug. 1, 2012, or who have at least 10 years of service and are prevented by high-year tenure, mandatory retirement, or other personnel rules or laws from completing the four years of additional service needed to earn transfer rights.
The special rules keep retirement-eligible military personnel from delaying retirement and clogging up the ranks because they suddenly find themselves with a new benefit. Those servicemembers will not lose transfer rights because of policies outside their control.
Benefits can be shared with a spouse, one child, or several children as long as the recipient is enrolled in the military’s Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System at the time of transfer. Military personnel can transfer any or all of their unused benefits, up to the maximum of 36 months of benefits.
Basic eligibility rules require members looking to transfer benefits to have at least six years of service and a commitment for serving another four. A spouse can begin using transferred benefits before the additional four years are served, but children many not use benefits until a servicemember has completed the entire 10 years.
Anyone who retired on Aug. 1, 2009, can transfer benefits without any additional service. Additionally, no further service will be required for anyone with an approved retirement date after Aug. 1, 2009, but before July 1, 2010.
• Those who become eligible for retirement after Aug. 1, 2009, and before Aug. 1, 2010, must serve one year after transferring benefits to their family.
• Those who become eligible for retirement after Aug. 1, 2010, and before Aug. 1, 2011, must serve two years after transferring benefits.
• Those who become eligible for retirement after Aug. 1, 2011, and before Aug. 1, 2012, must serve three years after transferring benefits.
• Those who become eligible for retirement after Aug. 1, 2012, have to serve four years after transferring benefits.