Pentagon Considering Changes to Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability

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post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to their children or spouse may soon see changes, a Defense Department official confirmed Monday.

“I can confirm that they are looking at the transferability aspect of the post-9/11 GI Bill,” said Army Maj. David Eastburn, a spokesman at the Pentagon.

Currently, service members can transfer their post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a dependent family member if they have at least six years in service and agree to serve an additional four years.

Those with at least 10 years in service can also transfer the benefit without serving the extra four years if they are blocked by policy from doing so.

Transfers can be made only while troops are still in service. The Montgomery GI Bill is not transferable.

The proposed changes could include blocking troops with more than 16 years in the military from transferring the benefit at all, according to a report from Military Times based on a written statement from Anthony Kurta, acting secretary of defense for personnel policy.

Eastburn declined to confirm that possible change or release the statement obtained by that publication.

Although the ability to transfer the benefit is allowed by law, the rules surrounding who can transfer and when are set by department policy.

A 2015 report from the congressionally mandated Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) noted that the benefit is meant to be used as a retention tool, not as an entitlement.

The commission recommended that the Pentagon increase the time in service before allowing a transfer to 10 years with a two-year additional service obligation. It did not recommend eliminating the benefit for those with more than 16 years in service.

While the GI Bill is administered and paid for through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department controls the transferability benefit.

More than 420,000 service members had transferred the benefit by 2014, the last year for which such data are readily available, and the VA had spent $5.6 billion on dependents who received the benefit.

— Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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