Transferring The GI Bill To A Spouse

Transferrability of benefits is one of the most amazing things about the Post 9/11 GI Bill.  If you are a long-time Paycheck Chronicles reader, you know that I believe that Congress will act to diminish the value of the Post 9/11 GI Bill over time.  This means that I think everyone who has Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility should thinking strategically about how and when it gets used.

For many military families, the biggest value comes in using the Post 9/11 GI Bill to assist the non-serving spouse in attaining educational credentials that will open up certain jobs and careers.  Spouses using GI Bill benefits do not receive the housing portion of the benefit, but in many situations that is a small trade-off for the opportunity to finish education before the spouse leaves active duty.

Here are the key things to know about transferrability of the Post 9/11 GI Bill to spouses:

  • The spouse must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) and be eligible for benefits at the time of transfer to receive transferred benefits.
  • The option to transfer is open to any member of the armed forces active duty or Selected Reserve, officer or enlisted who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and meets the following criteria:
    • Has at least six years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval and agrees to serve four additional years in the armed forces from the date of election.
    • Has at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by Service Branch or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.

When being used by a recipient spouse, the following rules apply:

  • Spouses may start to use the benefit immediately.
  • Spouses may use the benefit while the member remains in the Armed Forces or after separation from active duty.
  • Spouses are not eligible for the monthly housing allowance while the member is serving on active duty.
  • Spouses may use the benefit for up to 15 years after the service members last separation from active duty.
  • A subsequent divorce will not affect the transferees eligibility to receive educational benefits; however, after an individual has designated a spouse as a transferee under this section, the eligible individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.

There is a lot of mis-information regarding transferrability of benefits.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website has very clear instructions and information about this topic.

Have questions about the process of transferring benefits?  See Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.

10 Comments on "Transferring The GI Bill To A Spouse"

  1. Phil Hollins | April 9, 2014 at 12:41 pm |

    Kate thanks for the excellent info. I too think changes are coming which is why it is important for people not to waste time. I completely used all my GI Bill to finish two degrees with no debt. It is never too early to think about what to study and how the program will help members and their families once they leave the service. Thanks again for all your hard work.

  2. It was explained to me that enrolling dependents, list all the folks possible, the percentage of allocation does matter as it can be changed closer to the time of use of the GI Bill.

  3. Kate good info. It is what it is upon service members death.

  4. I meet all the above requirements to transfer. I have two little girls that I planned to transfer the benefit to; however, last month my wife and I found out we are expecting baby number 3. If I transfer the benefit to my two oldest girls now, will I be able to transfer some to my next child, months down the road after he/she is enrolled in DEERS? Or, should I just wait until baby number 3 is born?

  5. How hard is it to enroll in DEERS? My husband is the worst about getting us registered!
    What is the month your talking about? Giving one month of what?

    Our financial problems are huge is there a financial advisor that can help us? My husband is now in ky guard.
    He has all 3 gi bills there has to be something to break this bad streak!
    Thanks
    Portia

  6. My husband is 59 and has recently retired from national guard with 30 years. Can he transfer GI Bill to me or my son?

  7. I'm confuse about this :

    * Has at least 10 years of service in the armed forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of approval, is precluded by either standard policy (by Service Branch or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.

    I had 12 year of services in the armed forces (active duty) but my contract end october 3 2014, I have to serve four year more to tranfer my GI Bill to my Step daugther. She star the university this year.

  8. Kate I am 100% total and permanent disabled Iraqi war veteran……My wife was told by an education advisor at her school that she could have me transfer my post 9-11 GI Bill to her even though I have been out of the service for several years. I cannot find any information on this, and believe she has been given the wrong information. Has there been any changes to the transfer policy that I am not aware off?

  9. Kate,

    I hope you can help because I can't find an answer to this question. I a, an active duty LT who has 2xfos and I have separation date of FEB2015. I will not be complete with my additional 4 years at this time and will be unable to continue in the service (there is no option for continuation for 2xfos officer) .

    So my question is does this situation fufill the

    " 4 additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute"

    I want my wife to have my gi bill benefits

    Thanks !!!

  10. I have 15 years in. I have 2 years left on my current reenlistment, and cant reenlist again until I am 1 year out. I wanted to transfer my benefits to my spouse so she can start classes this summer. Is there no way around waiting another year to reenlist, which even then, I can only reenlist for 2 years unless I make E7…

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