Weatherford Democrat

April 6, 2014

VETERANS’ CORNER: Vets have benefits through Montgomery, Post 9/11 bills


Weatherford Democrat

— By JIM VINES

Depending on retirement, either the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bill provides benefits.

Soldiers generally have 10 years after leaving active duty to use the Montgomery GI Bill benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs can extend the 10-year period under some circumstances.

Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits expire 15 years following release from active duty. Entering active duty before July 1, 1985, when the MGIB started, different rules apply. Soldiers may qualify in one of four categories. The VA recommends that all retired soldiers file a claim for benefits to receive a formal decision on their eligibility.

The MGIB provides up to 36 months of education benefits for college, technical or vocational courses, correspondence courses, apprenticeship/job training, flight training, high tech training, licensing and certification tests, entrepreneurship training and certain entrance examinations.

The Post 9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for all military who have served on active duty for 90 or more consecutive days after Sept. 10, 2001. The benefits include tuition, fees, monthly housing allowance and a stipend for books and supplies, as well as training in graduate and undergraduate degrees encompassing a variety of subjects.

Effective Aug. 1, 2009, the Post 9/11 GI Bill allows service members to transfer their unused benefits to immediate family members. A spouse must use the transferred benefits within 15 years after the soldier leaves active duty. Children are not subject to the 15-year limit, but must use the benefit prior to 26 years of age. Soldiers must transfer their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits while on active duty. For more information, go to www.gibill.va.gov/ or myarmybenefits.us.army.mil/.



Income reporting change

The Department of Veterans Affairs has eliminated the annual requirement for most veterans enrolled in VA’s health care system to report income information. Instead VA will automatically match income information obtained from the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration.

Eliminating the requirement for annual income reporting makes the health care benefits easier for veterans to obtain. This change will reduce the burden on veterans, improve customer service and make it much easier for veterans to keep their health care eligibility up-to-date.

Some veterans applying for enrollment for the first time are still required to submit income information. There is no change in VA’s long standing policy to provide no-cost care to indigent veterans, veterans with catastrophic medical conditions, veterans with a rating of 50 percent or higher, or for conditions that are officially rated as “service-connected.”

Veterans need to continue to use the health benefits renewal form to report changes in their personal information, such as address, phone numbers, dependents, next of kin, income and health insurance. For more information, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits/cost or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

Speak to you again next week.



Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.