New Developments in VA Policy

I wanted to update and inform you about the new education benefit developments that are coming down range. Please keep submitting education and health benefit questions and comments to IAVA because your ideas and experiences could lead to change.

Living Allowance Cuts
Several articles have been published anticipating a new Department of Defense Basic Allowance of Housing cut beginning in 2015. According to Military Times, the policy will impact active duty service members only, not veterans on the Post-9/11 GI Bill or Vocational Rehabilitation [program? what do you call this?]. All Basic Allowance of Housing for veterans attending school will still be based on the DoD BAH rates, but will be rated at 100 percent, while active duty will be measured at 99 percent to maintain consistency. We will update you if there are any changes to the policy.

Update on In-State Rates
The July 1, 2015 deadline for the universal in-state rates may be extended due to implementation constraints on the states. In order for the law to come into effect, all states must amend their current veterans affairs policies and regulate the school certifying officials. Realistically, the new law will not commence until January 2016. Follow my GI Bill Wire and Twitter (insert handle) for updates.

Transferability
Currently, a service member must serve at least six years active duty or reserve and agree to four additional years in order to transfer their educational benefits to their spouse. A service member must serve at least 10 years for transfer to dependents. The benefit is strictly a DoD re-enlistment/retention incentive as a part of the great compromise to pass the Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008. However, veterans that are medically separated prior to the opportunity to transfer are unable to reap the same benefit.

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald attended IAVA’s 8th Annual Gala on November 13, 2014 and took time to meet with veterans about their concerns. I introduced and informed him of the unfortunate circumstances of being medically separated without the possibility of transferring benefits to spouses or dependents. In the upcoming Congress, IAVA plans to add this issue - which has the support of VA Secretary McDonald, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, and their respective departments - to our policy agenda. This provision should be a universally acclaimed policy with little to no opposition. I will be sure to blog with new updates on this development as more information is available.

Conclusion
If you have any questions regarding your benefits or transitional resources, please do not hesitate to contact me at ryant@iava.org or submitting a request. By voicing your concerns and questions, each and every one of you are the reason these kind of changes for the betterment of veterans benefits occur.