Planning Your VA Education Benefits Carefully
After serving in the US military, you're entitled to multiple benefits. The Montgomery GI Bill and Post 9/11 GI Bill are two popular college programs, but there are other programs such as the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Chapter 31 VA benefits and the Yellow Ribbon Program. You may be entitled to all of these programs and more, but pay special attention to Chapter 31. Here are a few education benefit details to understand how Chapter 31 works and how to implement it to the best of your abilities.
What Is Chapter 31?
Chapter 31 is a program authorized by congress to deliver job training, employment accommodations, resume assistance, and job search coaching to veterans with service-connected disabilities. A service-connected disability is any disabling condition that can be linked to military service, and you need official documentation in your Veterans Affairs (VA) file to qualify for these benefits.
The benefits are similar to the current Post-9/11 GI Bill in that they provide tuition and a personal allowance, but there are different qualification levels. All veterans who served after September 10, 2001 are eligible for some level of GI Bill benefits, while only service-connected veterans with at least a 10% disability rating will qualify for Chapter 31.
For many veterans, Chapter 31 becomes a benefit that opens up long after their Post-9/11 benefits are used up, often because of the length of time that their claim or appeal sits in the VA rating system. If you believe that your claim was incorrectly denied or that your rating is too low, a VA benefits and disability lawyer can help you correct the problem.
Utilizing Chapter 31 Efficiently
If you already qualify for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it's best to use the GI Bill for your main career and educational goals.
A 4-year degree, master's program, or doctorate (with careful planning) can be achieved, while Chapter 31 may be better for shorter endeavors and finishing touches. If you didn't quite get your master's or doctorate on the GI Bill alone, Chapter 31 may be able to help you, along with other programs such as Yellow Ribbon.
Certificates that aren't part of your degree are a good idea when using Chapter 31. It's best to diversify if you don't have goals to earn income with your main degree path, and the benefits from Chapter 31 are enough to make you economically viable or at least nearly complete with a 4-year program in another degree path.
Contact a VA and disability lawyer to discuss not only ways to ensure that your benefits are available, but also to get advice on how to plan your benefit use efficiently.