In early April, a federal appeals court was asked to fast-track a lawsuit which may expand veterans’ access to educational benefits. Attorneys in BO v. Wilkie argued that expediting the appeals process may reduce the financial impact of COVID-19 by giving former servicemembers an additional year of educational funding. If the lower court’s decision is upheld, veterans across the country may gain access to additional education benefits from GI bills.
Currently, many former servicemembers who request educational benefits through GI Bills are asked to waive their eligibility for similar programs. This commonly occurs when veterans requesting Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits are required to give up eligibility for Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has implemented this to ensure that veterans do not profit from receiving payments from multiple GI bills.
However, if the lower court’s decision under BO v. Wilkie is upheld, former servicemembers may be able to receive educational benefits from multiple GI Bill programs under certain circumstances. Individuals would only be able to receive a maximum of 48 months of benefits. Additionally, benefits cannot come from two programs at the same time. As a result of this, a veteran could use the total 36 months of education benefits allowed under the Post-9/11 GI Bill and still qualify for an additional 12 months of MGIB benefits.
The decision in BO v. Wilkie has been appealed by VA officials, and the case is currently waiting to be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Depending on several factors, it may take years for the case to be heard. However, many are hopeful that the case will be heard in the coming months, as a quick decision would allow veterans to enroll in classes for the 2020 Fall semester. Others are hopeful that the case will be heard soon, as the expansion of benefits may reduce the financial impact of the Coronavirus.
Many veterans may find it difficult to keep track of the changes in eligibility to benefits. The experienced attorneys at VetLaw will continue to monitor this lawsuit and update our site with any significant developments. If you have any questions about what VA benefits you may be eligible for, contact VetLaw to speak to a VA-accredited lawyer today.