New Year’s is all about new beginnings. In a word, it’s about change — and we’re not just talking about eating habits and gym schedules. In 2019, there’s a change coming that may affect Military Families: changes to the GI Bill could impact up to 9% of active-duty servicemembers, National Guardsmen and reservists.
The changes, which were first announced in July of 2018, will go into effect in July of 2019. This gives Military Families about six months to determine how they’ll respond to the news, if at all.
The biggest changes will affect how servicemembers transfer GI Bill benefits to their dependents. Currently, servicemembers with at least six years of service may transfer GI Bill benefits to their Military Spouse or child as long as they agree to serve for four more years. While this six-year minimum for transferring benefits will remain in effect, the Department of Defense will begin to enforce a 16-year cap in July. This cap prohibits servicemembers with 16 or more years of service from transferring any GI Bill benefits to their dependents.
According to an official DoD statement, the move is an attempt to “more closely align the transferability benefit with its purpose as a recruiting and retention incentive.” The changes will not affect Wounded Warriors and active-duty Purple Heart recipients, however. They will be able to transfer GI Bill benefits to family members whenever they’d like.
The decision has been getting mixed reviews since its announcement last year. DoD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell told Military Times that it was made to help ensure GI Bill benefits are available for future servicemembers. “The change is an important step to preserve transferability as a retention service,” explained Maxwell.
Other groups are less excited about it. The American Legion and National Military Family Association would like transferability to continue to be an option for those with 16 or more years of service. While both groups acknowledge the DoD’s rationale for making the change, they’re not sure it is the best way to retain transferability of benefits. Other critics of the changes include Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Joe Courtney, and many more.
July may feel like a long way away right now, but there’s no time like the present to begin planning for the future. The earlier you review your family’s situation and make any necessary changes in response to the upcoming GI Bill changes, the better.
In fact, the beginning of the year is always a great time to review your MilFam’s essential documents, too. For more help with any and all of your Military Family’s needs, you can always reach out to AAFMAA. They been helping servicemembers, Veterans and Military Families like yours for 140 years and offer “solutions for YOUR financial future”. Visit www.aafmaa.com or call 800-522-5221 for more information.
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