Court ruling may allow veterans to get more GI Bill benefits in the future
FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) - For 1.7 million veterans that served both before and after 9/11, they’ve been told by the VA that they can only use the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bill to use for a college degree, but not both.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is upholding its decision that would require the VA to pay veterans an additional year of education benefits under both GI Bills.
The ruling itself was made for one particular veteran’s case, who argued that after serving three separate stints between the Army and National Guard, he deserved to be eligible for both benefits.
Army Veteran Jeffrey Yarvis says the problem is quite common. He was a rare exception that got to use both bills, but the VA still took one year of benefits off his post 9/11 Bill in order to do so.
“If you served in both periods of time, and there wasn’t clear guidance given under the law whether you’re eligible or not and a decision was made, when that isn’t true to the contract or the law, yea, I think someone could make the argument for it,” he said.
“The Montgomery GI Bill didn’t give you nearly as much compensation, but it didn’t’ really need to. So, to say you lost eligibility for the post 9/11 GI Bill if you served in both periods would be a substantial difference financially between $1,200 under Montgomery and say $20,000 under 9/11 if you were going to the University of Texas.”
The VA has 60 days to appeal the ruling. In a statement, the VA says regardless of the decision, they remain committed to providing veterans the benefits they have earned and deserve.
As for the immediate future, Yarvis and other veterans believe it would be in the best interest of the VA to accommodate the change. Otherwise, more cases or even legislation to force the issue may follow.
“The cost of school is substantially higher than it was when the Montgomery GI Bill came out,” he said.
“So, it would be very significant for families because you could transfer the post 9/11 GI bill to your children as well.”
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