Legislation will ensure GI bill benefits can be transferred to eligible dependents
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today introduced legislation to require the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to modify language used on official VA and DoD forms to clarify the information required when a service member elects to have their GI Bill benefit transferred to a dependent. There are multiple examples of service members misreading the information requested in the GI Bill benefit transfer forms, resulting in eligible dependents being barred from education benefits due to an easily amendable error. The VA and DoD cannot amend the information on the form without this statutory authority.
“Our service members and their families sacrifice greatly for our freedoms, and it isn’t right that confusing paperwork can get in the way of a dependent receiving education benefits after the tragedy of losing a loved one,” said Senator Tuberville. “This legislation provides a simple fix that can make a big difference to our service members and their families in Alabama and across the nation. It fulfills the wish of those who have honorably served and guarantees this earned benefit is preserved.”
“We owe veterans and their families more than we’ll ever actually be able to repay,” said Senator Thune. “I am happy to join Senators Tuberville and Rubio in supporting this common-sense legislation that would cut through red tape and make it easier for veteran families to receive the benefits they so rightly deserve.“
“TAPS is grateful to Senator Tuberville for introducing legislation to ensure surviving spouses and children who are using transferred entitlement are not disqualified due to a technicality. This much needed legislation will give the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to remove the end date on transferred entitlement and strengthens benefits for surviving families,” said Bonnie Carroll, President and Founder Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
A service member may transfer their Post-9/11 GI bill benefits to a spouse or child so long as the service member has done the following:
- Completed at least 6 years on the date the service member requests to transfer the benefit, and
- Agreed to add 4 more years of service, and
- The individual receiving the benefits has enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Part of the transfer form requires the service member fill out a field labeled “end date.” This field refers to the date on which the benefit is no longer available to the dependent. Since this field is the cause of many incorrectly completed transfer forms, this bill would remove the “end date” to prevent further issues. The benefit would then naturally expire on the dependent’s 26th birthday, per statute.
Senators John Thune (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Tim Scott (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) are original cosponsors of this legislation. Representatives Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03), Cindy Axne (IA-03) and David Trone (MD-06) introduced the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation is supported by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a national organization focused on providing compassionate care for all those grieving the death of a military loved one.