Should Veterans Consider Disability Insurance?

What is Disability Insurance?

Disability Insurance is just like car, dental, medical, and vision, in that it helps pay for a specific issue related to a disability. For example, if you get hurt while lifting a box of paper over your head or walking on a slippery sidewalk. As a result, you could qualify for disability insurance.  The insurance company will pay a portion of your salary, usually 50-70% of your total monthly income, for any time you have to miss work. This could include various injuries and illnesses and will depend on the type of disability insurance you have. Think of disability insurance as a way of protecting your income if something terrible happens (car wreck, broken leg, etc…).

Do I Need Disability Insurance as a Veteran?

First, the big thing we need to make clear for everyone is the difference between VA disability and disability insurance. Unfortunately, many of us have a disability rating from the VA as a sort of compensation for the various injuries you suffered during your time in the service. To keep this simple, VA disability is a rating 0-100% and paid out by the Veterans Administration.  VA disability only pays for injuries or illnesses that are documented and certified by the VA that occurred during active duty service. If you get hurt in a civilian job, and they don’t have disability insurance, you’ll be stuck without a paycheck anytime you’re not able to work.  Your VA disability won’t cover any injury sustained unless you’re above 50% in total disability rating. Even with the VA providing the care, they won’t pay you for lost wages.

Disability insurance makes up for the gap between your VA benefits and your civilian insurance by providing protection if you’re hurt or sick. By purchasing disability insurance, you’re ensuring that your family is protected if you get injured or sick and can’t work. Normally, you’ll receive at least 50% of your income from the insurance company for as long you’re out of work (amount depends on the program you choose).  I think of most insurance as a necessary evil because it can be so expensive, and it often feels like I never use it. However, you only need one time where you wreck your car sliding on ice in a winter storm to know how important insurance is.  With that being said, I believe disability insurance is a great thing if you have the funds for it.

What are the Most Common Disability Claims?

Musculoskeletal  Disorders This is a fancy way to say joint, bone, and muscle pain. As many of us suffer from arthritis, this is one of the biggest claims to make.
Heart Disease Heart disease kills millions of people every year due to blocked arteries and obesity. If you had a heart attack or stroke, you could easily claim disability.
Cancer I have never met a person who didn’t know someone who has either had or died from Cancer. If you get cancer, you’ll be covered by your insurance.
Mental Health The number of Veteran suicides per day is still around 20 per day. If you feel like you’re having a mental break, please talk to someone ASAP.
Digestive Disorders Eating MRE’s for 20 years can have a negative impact on your digestive system with disorders like IBS or Colitis. If you have to miss time for these issues, you should be protected by your insurance
Major injuries, such as sprains, strains, broken bones, and back issues If you pull your back out or slip and fall on ice, you will be covered by disability insurance for the full recovery.

What is a Waiting Period for Insurance?

Many people have difficulty understanding the fine print for health insurance or income protection insurance (disability insurance). To keep this simple, a waiting period is the amount of time you need to be disabled before you can collect your insurance benefits. For example, the most common waiting period is 90 days, which can seem like a long time if you’re out of work. This is always something to consider when buying an insurance plan because some of us can’t go 3 months without a paycheck. This is why it’s so important to have an emergency fund of at least 3 months pay in your savings.

How Do I know Which Insurance is best for me?

Choosing an insurance company can be one of the most unexpectedly stressful choices you must make for your family and their future. We researched 5 insurance companies that offer disability protection and have rated them based on their affordability, Coverage Plan, and their network. Always conduct your own research on issues this important, but if you’re short on time or need a place to start, this blog will give you a great place to learn.

 

What are the Grading Criteria?

More people in our country believe health insurance is unaffordable for them when, in reality, it is very attainable with basic budgeting skills. We have ranked each insurance on their price versus each competitor and have given you the cheapest and most expensive disability insurance available today. Although most companies have similar plans, they all do something a little different than each other. With this in mind, we looked at the coverage plans of each insurance and display each plan below. Finally, the network of the company has an impact on a specific population who live in rural areas without many doctors available. Companies with bigger networks have typically shown to offer better pricing and service.

Winner: Breeze Insurance

Breeze is a lesser-known company than Principal and Aflac, but they affordable, and they offer respectable plans for individuals and families.  Breeze is such a new company they have to be better at customer service and offer competitive prices for similar services to compete. If you remember when USAA was a small company and had the best customer service, this seems like a similar situation. I just hope they continue their efforts to satisfy customers when they get bigger and have more money (unlike USAA).

Affordability of Breeze

Breeze offers 3 distinct plans of coverage that range from about $13/month to $100 if you choose your own plan to fit your needs. The pricing all depends on the location and your annual income, so it can be difficult to list specific prices for everyone. I chose to use the State of Virginia for these prices, so just know places like California, Texas, New York, and Colorado will be more expensive. 4.5/5

Monthly Benefit Waiting Period Monthly Cost
Plan 1 $900 90 Days $13
Plan 2 $1,700 90 Days $21
Plan 3 $2,570 90 Days $30

Coverage Plans for Breeze

Each plan is relatively the same as the others, as the monthly cost and coverage is the biggest difference between them. One feature Breeze offers at no charge is the Supplemental Disability Insurance Rider, which provides extra coverage to help with medical and house bills. You can request a waiting period for any plan to be as low as 30 days, but the price goes up drastically once you go that route. With my monthly income, Breeze would cover about 70% of my income for Plan 3 and about 35% for Plan 1. I think the coverage is adequate, but if you’re only getting 35% of your income protected, it might make more sense to just put money in your emergency fund. With that consideration, I’d only buy Plan 3 over the first 2. 4.5/5

Flexibility

Flexibility is arguably the most important and overlooked part of any insurance because not everyone has the same circumstances. Many insurance companies can find loopholes in your plan to cancel your benefits or decrease the payout coming to you. Breeze provides the remedy to that predatory behavior by giving guaranteed insurability and a non-cancel policy until the end of your coverage, or the money has maxed out.  Imagine getting critically hurt and your insurance telling you the bills are too expensive, and they can’t cover you anymore. As shady and immoral as this is, it happens all the time to Americans with Cancer and MS. You’ll never have to worry about that with Breeze because they guarantee your coverage. 5/5

 

Coverage from Breeze
Future Increase
Residual Benefits
Supplemental Insurance
Own Occupation
Guaranteed Insurability
Automatic Benefit Increase
Non-Cancelable Policy

 

Why You Should Buy Breeze Insurance

With incredible flexibility at an affordable price, Breeze is an excellent option if you need to get disability insurance for yourself. As a smaller company, Breeze puts a lot of its focus on customer service and getting as many Americans as possible covered in case of emergency. With an overall score 0f 14/15, Breeze is a great option for anyone wanting to protect their income.

Runner-Up: The Standard

The Standard is one of the largest insurance companies in the country and provides one of the best disability insurance plans available. The Standard gets most of its business from insuring large corporations where they can offer great deals due to the volume of employees. Each premium will be different, but generally, the maximum amount of coverage per month is about $5,000. With an exemption from pre-existing conditions and a rehabilitation condition in each plan makes The Standard a great option.

Affordability of The Standard

The Standard offers 3 separate plans that can range from around $20/month to well over $100/month for the bigger, more comprehensive plan. One thing I don’t like about The Standard, they don’t offer an online quote for easier convenience of the customer. This makes it difficult to provide exact information on plans and pricing, but they do this because of the disparity between individual income and needs. Most people will have different quotes on disability insurance because everyone makes a different amount each month and has different circumstances than anyone else. 4/5

Coverage Plans for The Standard

The reason The Standard is so highly rated is the amount of coverage and support you get for the original price. They offer more options for coverage than most other insurance companies. The Catastrophic Accident insurance is something not everyone can offer because it normally means a much larger bill for the insurance. Read the list below to see what’s covered and what is not covered by The Standard. 5/5

Covered by The Standard
Partial Disability
Guaranteed Renewable
Non-Cancelable
Survivor Benefit
Rehabilitation Benefit
Total Disability Income Benefit

 

Flexibility

The flexibility shown by The Standard is really exceptional in the insurance world because most companies will never pay for the cost of living changes. The hospital confinement indemnity is another unique situation that The Standard covers for their customers. For example, if you are mentally ill or need to be placed in a hospital for extended care, The Standard will pay a portion of that bill to ease your burden. 4.5/5

 

Coverage from The Standard
Future Increase
Residual Benefits
Supplemental Insurance X
Own Occupation
Guaranteed Insurability
Automatic Benefit Increase
Non-Cancelable Policy
Catastrophic Accident
Cost of Living Adjustment
Critical Illness Protection
Hospital Confinement Indemnity

Why You Should Buy The Standard Insurance

As one of the largest insurance companies in the country, a company you work for is likely affiliated with The Standard. If your company is backed by The Standard, you will get better deals on individual disability insurance than you would if you didn’t already put into the system. The amount of coverage and flexibility offered by the Standard is great for someone who feels they need the maximum amount of coverage from injury or illness. Think school teacher, policeman, and construction worker. 13.5/15

 

3rd Place: Policy Genius

Policy Genius was chosen because they offer a service, unlike any other insurance company we know of in the United States. Policy Genius is a mediator between the prospective customer and the insurance company by comparing and contrasting every insurance company we have in this country. They’re paid a commission by the insurance companies for each application processed by each company. The commissions are roughly the same, so they claim to not hold any favorites. This business model allows them to stay neutral and maintain an informational base for customers to start their search. In fact, I encourage everyone reading this to call Policy Genius first so they can give you a quote from every company you’re interested in.

Affordability of Policy Genius

I could argue that Policy Genius is the most affordable of any company you’ll deal with because they can accurately compare every insurance company. I recommend starting here because you could try to use these quotes to your advantage when dealing with insurance salesmen over the phone. I’m not saying people are going to take advantage of you, but I like to have the facts before I start to discuss rates with someone. The best thing about the pricing with Policy Genius is they have been the most accurate company in the quotes they provide for their customers. 5/5

Coverage Plans for Policy Genius

Policy Genius is one of the best ways to compare and contrast insurances, but the level of coverage seems to be much lower than buying directly from the source (Standard, Principal, Breeze, etc…). They provide the basics, such as a non-cancelable plan that prevents the company from backing out on their obligations and destroying your life. Although they don’t offer the same as The Standard, they ensure you get the best possible price from each company, which has to count for something. 3/5

Covered by Policy Genius
Partial Disability X
Guaranteed Renewable X
Non-Cancelable
Survivor Benefit X
Rehabilitation Benefit X
Total Disability Income Benefit X

Flexibility of Policy Genius

The flexibility of Policy Genius is kind of deceiving when you think about the type of company they are. As a mediator, they provide incredible flexibility in choosing a company, but they don’t have a ton of features they can guarantee you. I like the idea that my premium is set and won’t be changed (future increase rider), but I have a problem with the lack of options, such as catastrophic accident protection and no help with the hospital bills associated with the injury. 3/5

Coverage from The Standard
Future Increase
Residual Benefits
Supplemental Insurance X
Own Occupation
Guaranteed Insurability X
Automatic Benefit Increase X
Non-Cancelable Policy
Catastrophic Accident X
Cost of Living Adjustment X
Critical Illness Protection X
Hospital Confinement Indemnity X

Why You Should Use Policy Genius

 

Who is Kimber America?

 

Kimber America got its start in 1979 in a town called Clackamas, Oregon, by a father and son duo named Jack and Greg Warne. They began by manufacturing small caliber rifles (.22 caliber), but after their reputation in the Northwest grew, they decided to expand their business. Unfortunately, the company was sold in the later ’80s and had a lot of trouble staying in business, so they liquidated their assets. In 1990, Greg Warne tried to resuscitate the Kimber brand, but all of their equipment was outdated and thrown in a junkyard. Finally, with the financial backing of Les Edleman, Kimber of Oregon was rejuvenated with a fresh look and state of the art equipment. Eventually, Les Edelman bought out Greg Warne and built the company to what it is today.

Kimber Pistols

Kimber has been revitalized with their famous 1911 models to their Micro 9 for excellent concealed carry capabilities. Most of know about the history of the Browning 1911 and how that gun changed the way future guns were built and operated. Kimber has taken the original design and revamped it to make it original with a sleeker look and smoother operation. We will discuss the Warrior, TLE II,  Micro 9, and the K6S revolver to give you a better understanding of some of their best selling pistols.

 

 

Kimber Warrior 1911

The Kimber Warrior is their full-sized model of 1911 that is designed for both law enforcement and as a civilian home-defense weapon. With an ambidextrous safety lever and tactical Picatinny rail under the barrel, the Warrior is great for every pistol owner. Weighing only 2.4 lbs and a 4 lb trigger pull increases the control of the firearm, thus increasing the accuracy of the pistol.

Specs:

Kimber Warrior
Weight 2.44 lbs
Height 5.25″
Barrel Length 5″
Overall Length 8.7″
Width 1.28″
Trigger Pull Weight 4-5 lbs
Caliber .45 ACP
Magazine Capacity 7+1
MSRP $1,200

Kimber Warrior .45 ACP 5

 

 Buy Here

Pros:

  • .45 ACP provides excellent stopping power
  • The 4-5 lb trigger pull is better than most other .45 ACP handguns
  • Perfect for Law Enforcement as a primary carry pistol
  • Aesthetically beautiful
  • Accurate
  • Dependable
  • I love the trigger!

Cons:

  • Steep price
  • Felt recoil is still a lot (16lbs)

Features:

  •  Ambidextrous thumb safety, lanyard slot, and bumped grip safety
  • G-10 grips and 24 lines-per-inch front strap checkering
  • Tactical Wedge night sights
  • Kimber Tactical Rail permits quick and secure accessory attachment
  • KimPro® II finish offers outstanding additional resistance to chemicals, moisture, salt, and UV light

Why You Should Buy the Kimber Warrior

The Kimber Warrior is as good as any other 1911 model you’ll find on the market, including from its original makers, Browning. If you’re a police officer, join your fellow LAPD officers in switching to the Kimber 1911 and feel more secure on the streets. Chambered as a .45 caliber pistol, the accuracy and dependability are better than most other 1911 models. Typically, a .45 caliber pistol is a little wider, since it has to hold bigger rounds, but the Warrior is only 1.2 inches wide and has an effortless and smooth trigger pull weight of 4 lbs. If you can get over the cost of Kimber pistols, this is a great option to have superior stopping power without the added weight and bulky feel.

 

 

Pro Tip: If you choose to go with the Kimber Warrior, I’d look at the Desert Warrior before I go with the original model. The Desert Warrior from Kimber is so beautiful; you’ll find yourself staring at the craftsmanship with no intention to handle or fire the gun.

Where Can I buy the Kimber Warrior?

You can buy the Kimber Warrior from its website directly or from almost any gun store in the country, such as Cabelas, Palmetto State Armory, Field and Stream, Brownells, Armslist,  and Gun Broker. If it were up to me, I’d buy from Palmetto State Armory because of the warranties and quality of service. It’s also owned and operated by a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). It’s always nice to support a fellow Veteran who sells an excellent product with great customer service.

Kimber TLE II

The Kimber Tactical Law Enforcement II pistol is the gun of choice for thousands of police and federal law enforcement agents across the country. The TLE model is almost identical to the Warrior model of 1911, except the weight, which is lighter in the TLE. As most police officers know, there are often guidelines and restrictions for attachments that can go on your duty pistol. The TLE is made safe for law enforcement by removing the Picatinny rail underneath the barrel and installing 3-dot tritium night sights. It comes in different finishes, but I would select the stainless steel model without any hesitation.

Specs:

Kimber TLE II
Weight 2.37 lbs
Height 5.25″
Barrel Length 5″
Overall Length 8.7″
Width 1.28″
Trigger Pull Weight 4-5 lbs
Caliber .45 ACP
Magazine Capacity 7+1
MSRP $900

Kimber Stainless TLE/RL II .45 ACP 1911 Pistol with Night Sights - 3200140

 

  Buy Here

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Accurate
  • Great Trigger Pull
  • Dependable
  • Awesome stopping power
  • The same great trigger assembly

Cons:

  • Very expensive versus comparable models

Features:

  • 30 lines-per-inch front strap checkering and flat top slide
  • Integrated mainspring lanyard loop and aggressively textured G-10 grips
  • Match-grade three-hole trigger, low-profile 3-dot tritium night sights

Why You Should Buy the TLE II

I would buy this model of 1911 over the Warrior because you can save around $400 and get a gun that is a little lighter, has better sights, and as dependable as the Warrior. This pistol is made for law enforcement and military, so remember you’re not going to be able to add many attachments on it, such as lights and lasers. The simplistic features and minimalist design is made specifically for police officers who are not allowed to add attachments to their pistols.

Kimber Micro 9

Kimber Micro 9
Weight .94 lbs
Height 4.07″
Barrel Length 3.15″
Overall Length 6.1″
Width 1.06″
Trigger Pull Weight 7 lbs
Caliber 9mm
Magazine Capacity 6+1
MSRP $650

Kimber Micro 9 Two-Tone 9mm Pistol

 

 Buy Here

 

Pros:

  • One of the best concealed carry pistols
  • Less than 1 pound in weight!
  • 3″ barrel is perfect for any concealment option
  • 9mm makes it cheaper to own than a .45 caliber
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Heavy trigger pull
  • Very expensive

Features:

  • Single-action trigger
  • new lowered and flared ejection port for easy loading and unloading
  • All metal, stainless steel
  • American Made

Why You Should Buy the Kimber Micro 9

Micro nine can fit into a pocket, purse, holster, backpack, and glovebox without taking up room or disrupting your convenience. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the 7 lb trigger pull, which is heavier than most other 9mm chambered pistols. This is the perfect pistol women and smaller men as a concealed carry pistol because it’s less than a pound and is only 1″ wide. This provides excellent control for any sized adult, and the 7 lb trigger pull is specifically designed as an added safety feature.

Kimber K6s

The Kimber K6s is the revolver made by Kimber America and boasts an incredibly sleek and practical design, specially made for concealed carry situations. Some people might ask, why would I choose a revolver over the Micro 9mm or Warrior? The easy answer is nothing says get back like a .357 Magnum staring you in the face with six opportunities to hit your target. The trigger pull is heavy, and the 2″ barrel forces you to take shots from no more than 20 meters away if you want an accurate shot. The recoil is heavier with a .357 bullet, but there is no doubt that all you need is one hit from this revolver to get your point across. I don’t think anyone can walk through a .357 Magnum, but I have seen people walk through a 9mm round.

Kimber K6S
Weight 1.44 lbs
Height 4.46″
Barrel Length 2″
Overall Length 6.62″
Width 1.39″
Trigger Pull Weight 9.5lbs
Caliber .357 Magnum
Magazine Capacity 6-shot cylinder
MSRP $950

Kimber pistol K6s Revolver-Stainless 2" barrel,.357mag, 6 shot-4000010

 

 Buy Here

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easily concealed anywhere
  • Durable
  • Accurate to about 20 meters
  • .357 Magnum offers great stopping power

Cons:

  • Very heavy trigger pull
  • Limited in distance firing
  • Very expensive

Features:

  • Superior Ergonomic Grip Contour
  • Smooth No-Stack Double Action Trigger
  • Stainless Steel 2″ Barrel
  • 6-Shot Capacity
  • Low-Profile Removable Front and Rear Dovetail Sights

Why You Should Buy The K6s Revolver

This revolver is a great second-chance gun that provides unmatched stopping power versus any gun this size made with all stainless steel. I would carry this as a back up if I were a police officer and was comfortable carrying an ankle holster or even on my belt.

Accessories

Attachments on your pistol are all about personal preference on what feels right and what makes the gun better for you to use. Except for some of the TLE and the Micro 9 models, every other gun has room for attachments, such as lights, lasers, and aftermarket sights.  I always recommend placing a light on your pistols, especially if it’s used as a self-defense pistol for your home. Many people love the idea of lasers to help guide you without looking down the sights but remember that whoever you’re aiming at can see that laser too. I also place night sights on all of my pistols because they are easier for target identification in low light scenarios.

VORTEX VENOM RED DOT 6MOA 1X MAGNIFICATION

The Vortex Venom Red Dot sight is one of my favorite aftermarket sights you could use for any gun you plan to shoot at shorter distances. The rapid target identification is ushered in by the ultra-wide window and the massive 6 MOA dot in the center. Weighing only an ounce, this optic won’t throw off the weight of the pistol, so you don’t have to worry about your aim being off when it comes time to fire.  Besides the reflective protection and the ArmorTec coating applied to the Vortex, the best feature is the unlimited eye relief. Having unlimited eye relief for a sight means you don’t have to squint to see the dot and focus on your target, and you can keep both eyes open if you want.

Vortex Venom Red Dot 6MOA 1X Magnification - VMD-3106

 

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TRUGLO LASER SIGHT MICRO-TAC GREEN

Personally, I don’t like lasers on my pistols because I always add light and aftermarket sights, but I understand the desire to have a laser. For starters, a laser can be great for those who have trouble aiming down the sights, such as physically disabled shooters or someone with poor vision. This specific sight will display a high powered green laser that shoots a laser at 520 nm, which will get you about 40 meters in front of you. Regardless, it’s more than enough for anything you’re going to shoot at with a pistol.

TruGlo Laser Sight Micro-Tac Green - TG7630G

 

 Buy Here

 

SUREFIRE X300 ULTRA WEAPON LIGHT

I’ve mentioned before that I carry a weapon light on all of my pistols because of the tactical advantage it offers. The two reasons to have a pistol is for a self-defense gun to protect or family or if you’re a competitive shooter. With this in mind, a good weapon light should be able to disorient and temporarily blind an intruder if they stepped into your house. This Surefire X300 displays 500 lumens of white light that will blind anyone looking at it within 20 meters of you, giving you a tactical advantage over your adversary.

SureFire X300 Ultra Weapon Light, 6V, 600 Lumens - X300U-A

 

 

 Buy Here

 

Conclusion

Kimber America is a weapon manufacturer that produces all of its products in the United States and has been in business for over 30 years. Their guns are expensive, but they’re very well made with the utmost care and consideration for their customers. The Desert Warrior is one of their best selling pistols because of the high stopping power, accuracy, and durability. I believe every law enforcement officer should consider the TLE II as their primary carry pistol due to its adherence to departmental regulations. Kimber America may not be the best-known company we have, but they’re definitely worth getting to know if you want a great American made gun.

 

How Do Veterans Pay for School?

How Do Veterans Afford College?

One of the coolest things about this job is that I get to help my fellow Veterans with issues that I have already been through. College is only getting more expensive with the shift from higher education institutions to billion-dollar businesses. As of right now, the average cost for an in-state student in the US is about $10,000 and $26,000 out of state per year.

This comes out to an astounding $104,000 for a 4-year degree that will undoubtedly keep you in debt for your whole life. According to the Federal Reserve, the average student debt ranges from $200-300 per month and lasts a lifetime. With this knowledge, how the hell are we supposed to afford school and not be in debt for the rest of our lives? This blog will give you all the information about applying, maintaining, and getting the most out of your Veteran benefits.

Post 9/11 G.I. Bill

I got out of the military in 2011 after serving my 4-year enlistment and decided to go to school immediately once I got out. I had to make a choice whether I was going to get the Post 9/11 or the Montgomery GI Bill and really had no idea what to choose. Luckily I chose right and picked the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and was able to have my tuition and room and board paid for.

The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill is available to anyone who has served on active duty after 9/11/2001 for at least 3 years and has been granted an honorable discharge.  This is by far the best and most comprehensive benefit for Veterans to take advantage of.  However, there are a lot of misconceptions about the benefit that people are never told until they experience it. This section will give you everything you need to know to make the best decision for you and your family.

How Much Does the Post 9/11 GI Bill Cover?
100% 36 or more total months
100% 30 or more consecutive days on active duty with a disability-related discharge
90% 30 total months
80% 24 total months
70% 18 total Months
60% 12 total months
50% 6 total months
40% 90 or more days

How Do I Apply for Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefits?

As we learn to crawl before we learn to walk, I want to first teach you how to apply to the benefits you’ve earned with your hard work for your nation. Before you apply you’re going to need personal information (table below) so the VA and the educational institution can verify your credentials. There are multiple ways you can apply, whether it be by mail, in person, with the help of an advocate, or online. There is no reason that I could think of that would be a good reason to not apply online. It will take you about 10 minutes to apply to your benefits and you will receive a confirmation email that it was received, immediately (Save this email). It will take anywhere from a week to 90 days for the VA to confirm your benefits and start the process with your school.

What Information Do I Need to Apply for Education Benefits?
Social Security Number
Direct Deposit from registered bank
Education and military history
Basic information about the school or training facility

What Happens After I Apply?

Once you apply for your benefits, you’ll receive the ruling from the VA normally within 30 days of submitting your application. One the VA has made its decision, you’ll receive a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) in the mail if you’ve been granted your benefits. Once you get this letter, safeguard it with your life and bring it to the certifying official at your prospective school (every public university has one).

Pro Tip: Make sure you fill out everything correctly because once you submit the application, you can’t go back for any reason. If you have all of your documentation submitted, this process will be shorter than if you don’t have everything submitted.

What are the Major Benefits from the Post 9/11 GI Bill?

There are a lot of benefits from this Bill, but the major ones are tuition (up to 100%), $1,000 per year for books, and a monthly stipend for housing (BAH). The most deceiving and misunderstood aspect of the 9/11 Bill is the idea that no matter what, 100% of your tuition is covered. This is not accurate at all because each state and University has different pricing and costs associated with the school. We will get into this later, I just want you to start thinking about how much your prospective school will cost. On way to find out how much your school will cover, is to put your information in the VA comparison tool. This will allow you to see if the school you want to go to is a realistic option or it’s too expensive for your financial situation.

  1. Tuition up to 100%
  2. BAH is dependent on your zip code. Rated at E-5 with dependents up to 36 months
  3. $1,000 a year for books

Does the Post 9/11 GI Bill Cover Part-Time School?

Yes, you can use your Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits even if you’re only going to school part-time, but they will only cover the number of credits taken. For example, if you apply and are granted GI Bill Benefits, you can take as low as 1 class per semester and your class will be paid off. This may sound like a good idea, but you’d be wasting thousands of dollars using your GI Bill in this way. The Post 9/11 covers up to full-time students for 36 months, meaning that if you only take one class per semester, that still counts towards your 36 months. So, to get the most out of your GI Bill, its best to take at least 12 credits.

Can I Transfer My Educational benefits to my family?

Yes, but there are a lot of stipulations that must be met first if you want your child or wife/husband to receive your education benefits. The military wants at least 10 years of service for you to transfer because they feel like if you’re not going to use your entitlement, they want more commitment out of you. If you’re interested in applying for a Transfer of Entitlement (TOE), click here and get started.

How Can I Transfer My Education Benefits to My Family?
1. You must be on Active Duty or

2. Be in the Selected Reserve

3. You must have 6 years of active duty service with the promise to serve 4 more years (10 total)
4. If you have 10 years of service and for whatever reason can’t commit to more time, you are eligible for transfer benefits
5.  The person receiving benefits must be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)
6. All dependents are eligible for transfer

When Can My Child or Spouse Use the GI Bill?

For whatever reason, the VA has decided there are two separate standards to follow to get your benefits, and when you can use those benefits. I created a table below for you to check which one you fall into so you can plan accordingly with your family.

Husband/Wife Child
When Can They Use the Benefit? Immediately once the COE is received and the school certifies the letter Only after 10 years of service has been completed under honorable conditions
Can They Use the Benefit on Active Duty? Yes Yes
Is there a Timeline when these benefits expire? After 15 years of separation date Have to use before their 26th birthday
What About Housing Allowance (BAH)? Can’t use while on active duty qualified to receive BAH, regardless of your active duty status
Other Qualifications? none Must be at least 18 years old or received a high school diploma

 

What are Survivors and Dependents Education Assistance?

The Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA) is specifically designed for anyone who has lost their father, mother, husband, or wife in the line of duty. This program is designed to give spouses and dependents a way to further themselves through higher education, due to a catastrophic loss. As a proud sponsor of the Navy SEALS and Green Beret Foundation, we highly encourage those who’ve suffered unimaginable loss to look into the DEA program or the Fry Scholarship, which we’ll explain below.

Survivor Child
Do I qualify for Benefits? Yes, your benefit starts the day of the soldier’s death Yes, must be 18 years old to start
Do these Benefits Run Out? Yes, must use before 10 years after the death or disability of the Veteran (20 years if your sponsor died on active duty) Yes, ends after the 26th birthday of the child
How Do I Know if I’m Eligible for these Benefits?
  • Is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
  • Died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability, or
  • Is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or
  • Was forcibly detained (held) or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity, or
  • Is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability (effective December 23, 2006)
  • Is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability, or
  • Died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability, or
  • Is missing in action or was captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, or
  • Was forcibly detained (held) or interned in the line of duty by a foreign entity, or
  • Is in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability (effective December 23, 2006)
What Benefits Do I Qualify For?
  • College or graduate degree programs
  • Career-training certificate courses
  • Educational and career counseling
  • Apprenticeships
  • On-the-job training
  • College or graduate degree programs
  • Career-training certificate courses
  • Educational and career counseling
  • Apprenticeships
  • On-the-job training

What Is the Yellow Ribbon Program?

The Yellow Ribbon Program is the unsung hero to higher education in the form of the educational institution taking a portion of the bill. The Yellow Ribbon Program is designed to assist students who qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill and still have tuition left over. For example, I went to West Virginia University (WVU) and once I got there, I realized my GI Bill would not cover full tuition because I was out of state. Luckily, WVU is a partner in the Yellow Ribbon Program and the school agreed to pay the remainder of the bill. Not all schools are partners of the Yellow Ribbon, so call your school and ask if they’re a Yellow Ribbon partner.

What Happens if I need an Extra Year of Benefits?

There are a couple ways to go about this, first, you can apply for an extension of 1 year of 9/11 GI Bill benefits, secondly, you can apply for Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment benefits. If you use your 4-year benefit and need a fifth, you can apply for an extra year, but you must have a plan to finish your degree. I personally used this extension because I needed an extra semester to graduate.

Want to Learn More: Read Veterans Could Recieve an Extra Year of GI Bill Benefits

 

Conclusion

The Post 9/11 GI Bill is an educational benefit that every veteran receives if he/she serves under honorable conditions and serves at least 3 years on Active Duty or Selected Reserve. You can use this benefit to completely pay for your school, training, or pay of your child or spouse’s college. The GI Bill covered 5 years of my education at WVU and combing that with Vocational Rehabilitation (Next blog) got me a Master’s degree without paying $1.00. The Post 9/11 GI Bill, along with the Yellow Ribbon Program, paid over $70,000 to WVU and for my food and housing. If you’re not sure you want to continue education after your service, read this quote from arguably the greatest American of all time, “Upon the subject of education… I can only say that I view it as the most important subject that we as a people may be engaged in” Abraham Lincoln.