Veterans Affairs officials have appealed a federal court ruling granting thousands of veterans an extra year of college tuition benefits, likely delaying final resolution on the issue for at least a few more months.
Department attorneys on Friday filed paperwork to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to consider the case of “BO vs Wilkie,” which centers around VA’s practice of making veterans relinquish their Montgomery GI Bill eligibility in order to receive Post-9/11 GI Bill payouts.
The case could eventually cost the department billions of dollars in new education payouts if the courts continue to rule against VA.
Under current department rules, veterans eligible for both Montgomery GI Bill and Post-9/11 GI Bill must sign away their rights to one of the education benefits programs in order to access the other.
Typically, veterans opt for the Post-9/11 GI Bill program, because it provides 36 months of the full tuition cost of state schools, plus additional living stipends. Veterans can also transfer the benefit to family members. The total value of those payouts can easily top $20,000 a year, depending on where individuals attend school.
In contrast, the Montgomery GI Bill — the primary education benefit for veterans before 2010 — provided eligible veterans with about $2,000 a month last semester
Federal officials have argued in court that relinquishing eligibility to one of the programs is designed to make sure veterans aren’t doubling up on government benefits.
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