Under the special rules:
• Those who become retirement-eligible before July 1, 2010, or who are retirement eligible as of Aug. 1 will be able to transfer benefits to family members beginning Aug. 1 without any additional service.
• Those who become eligible to retire after July 1, 2010, but on or before Aug. 1, 2010, would have to make a new one-year service commitment from the date they are approved to gain transfer rights.
• Those eligible to retire after Aug. 1, 2010, but on or before Aug. 1, 2011, would have to make a two-year commitment.
• Those eligible to retire after Aug. 1, 2011, but on or before Aug. 1, 2012, would have to make a three-year commitment.
• Those eligible to retire after Aug. 1, 2012, would have to serve the full additional four years to earn transfer rights.
Sources involved in the agreement caution retirement-eligible service members who may be considering delaying their retirement to take advantage of GI Bill transfer rights that it is not yet clear how each of the services will use the authority, and the agreement still could be modified.
“It could change,” one official said. “I don’t think it will, but there is always a chance. People need to know that as they make decisions.”
Under the basic transfer-rights provisions in the law, any member of the armed forces — active or reserve — who has earned Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and has at least six years of service may transfer some or all of their benefits to immediate family members if they agree to serve an additional four years.
Spouses may begin using transferred benefits right away as long as the member has completed six years of service. But children must wait until the member has completed 10 years of service — the initial six plus the new four-year obligation.
A spouse may use the benefits while a member is in the service and for up to 15 years after the member separates. Children may use the benefits while the member is on active duty or until the child reaches age 26.
In addition, under proposed Department of Veterans Affairs rules, the right of a spouse to use transferred benefits terminates if the couple divorces, and a child loses the right to use transferred benefits if the child marries.
Service members will have to transfer benefits in writing, although this might be done electronically, and they will be able to modify or cancel the transfer as long as they do not make a change more than once a month.
Defense and service officials still must work out the administrative details on how this process will work.