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Old 04-25-2011, 02:58 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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US Military GI Bill benefits assignable

I will try to keep this as brief as possible.

My son's mother and I are divorced. We share joint physical custody. He is with us each 50% of the time. I am responsible for 100% of his support, as his mother does not work. I provide for my son's medical insurance and claim him as my dependent on my tax return.

My ex-wife remarried in 2004 and my son's stepfather is an active military personel. She and her husband also have a son between the two of them. It is my understanding that my son is listed in DEERS (Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System) as a dependent to my son's stepfather. My son has a military ID from our local base. I believe that they also cover my son through Tri-care, even though he is covered through my health insurance.

On a comparison basis, my annual household income is signifcantly greater than theirs.

Over the next 18 months, my son will be making decisions about colleges and my ex-wife called me to discuss financial aid. It is my understanding that most colleges and universities will look at the household incomes of both parents when looking at need based financial aid. When completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) primarily for student loans, they look to the parent whom had the most custody during the 12 months prior to completing the application and if it is 50/50, they look to the parent that provided the majority of the support. In my son's case, me.

My ex-wife, went on to say that our son would be eligible to receive GI Bill education benefits that can be assigned by my son's stepfather. From what I've read, as long as the stepchild qualifies as a dependent, then the GI Bill benefits can be assigned, and they primarily use the DEERS system to determine this.

However, I know that two families cannot claim the same child as a dependent. I have claimed him as my dependent on my tax returns each year of his life. I'm pretty sure that if we both claimed his as a dependent on each families return, it would have been caught already by the IRS. Can a military personel claim a dependent in DEERS but not claim them as a dependent on their tax return?

Also since in addition to his stepson, my ex-wive's husband may want to assign GI Bill benefits to his own son, currently in the first grade, in about 11 years. I would assume there is some limitation on to how many children these benefits can be assigned.

So basically, is my ex-wife even remotely correct about her husband being able to assign GI Bill education benefits to our son?

Last edited by Omar Little; 04-25-2011 at 03:01 PM.. Reason: clarification
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2011, 04:36 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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Quote:
My ex-wife, went on to say that our son would be eligible to receive GI Bill education benefits that can be assigned by my son's stepfather. From what I've read, as long as the stepchild qualifies as a dependent, then the GI Bill benefits can be assigned
No. If he just stays with them sometimes and they don't provide the bulk of the financial support, then he is not their dependent. He is your dependent. He can't be both your and their dependent for various purposes unless all 3 of you are married together.

Of course, he is still supposed to claim his mom's income on his FAFSA, even if they will not be providing him with any college funds. You could just leave off their information if they really don't provide him with any financial support, which would lower your EFC, but it's unethical and potentially illegal. I didn't claim my father when I did my FAFSAs, though, because we were estranged and he wouldn't have provided me with that information anyway (because then my mom would see it and blah blah divorced drama blah child support blah). And I DID claim my stepdad's... so maybe what I did was ok. I dunno, we didn't ask for permission.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 04-25-2011 at 04:37 PM..
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:52 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
No. If he just stays with them sometimes and they don't provide the bulk of the financial support, then he is not their dependent.
Then how were they able to get him listed in the DEERS as a dependent? I am looking for someone with active military experience and have dependents to help me understand.

Last edited by Omar Little; 04-25-2011 at 04:54 PM..
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Old 04-25-2011, 04:58 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Of course, he is still supposed to claim his mom's income on his FAFSA, even if they will not be providing him with any college funds. You could just leave off their information if they really don't provide him with any financial support, which would lower your EFC, but it's unethical and potentially illegal.
Actually you only include the financial information of the custodial parent.

http://www.fafsaonline.com/fafsa-que...nd-divorce.php

Quote:
•If your parents have divorced or separated, answer only the questions about the parent that you lived with most during the last 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, answer only the questions about the parent who provided most of your financial support during the last 12 months.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2011, 07:11 PM
shellofmyformerself shellofmyformerself is offline
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You are referring to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. See here for info:

http://www.gibill.va.gov/post-911/po...-benefits.html

Here's what it says about eligibility:

Eligible Dependents
An individual approved to transfer an entitlement to educational assistance under this section may transfer the individual’s entitlement to:

•The individual's spouse.
•One or more of the individual’s children.
•Any combination of spouse and child.
•A family member must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) and be eligible for benefits, at the time of transfer to receive transferred educational benefits.
A child's subsequent marriage will not affect his or her eligibility to receive the educational benefit; however, after an individual has designated a child as a transferee under this section, the individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.

A subsequent divorce will not affect the transferee’s eligibility to receive educational benefits; however, after an individual has designated a spouse as a transferee under this section, the eligible individual retains the right to revoke or modify the transfer at any time.

----------------

My ex is active duty but I have custody of our daughter (I am no longer active duty). She is listed as his dependent in DEERS because she is his child, and as such she is entitled to all the benefits (BX, Commissary, medical, etc) as if she lived with him. This has no bearing whatsoever on legal custody (for income tax issues, etc).

ETA: He is listed in DEERS as a dependent because he is a stepchild of a military member and is entitled to those benefits. It doesn't matter if he is a stepchild or natural child. However, if they ever divorce, I'm pretty sure he would lose DEERS eiligibility (but not the GI Bill money because that designation is separate).

Last edited by shellofmyformerself; 04-25-2011 at 07:14 PM.. Reason: Forgot something
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Old 04-25-2011, 08:55 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shellofmyformerself View Post
ETA: He is listed in DEERS as a dependent because he is a stepchild of a military member and is entitled to those benefits. It doesn't matter if he is a stepchild or natural child. However, if they ever divorce, I'm pretty sure he would lose DEERS eiligibility (but not the GI Bill money because that designation is separate).
Thanks. So the fact that my son's stepdad doesn't really financially support my son has no bearing on his ability to assign his GI Bill benefits to him? All that is considered is the marital relationship to his mother? Doesn't sound quite right, but the government has done stranger things.
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Old 04-26-2011, 02:32 PM
flyboy flyboy is offline
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I'm in a very similar position to the stepdad, although we have primary custody.

A few weeks ago I converted my MGIB to the Post-9/11 Bill and added my daughter, step-daughter, and wife to the beneficiary list, which was populated from DEERS. My stepdaughter has been in DEERS as my dependent for the last seven years, and we alternate every year between us and her father wrt claiming her on our taxes.

I wish I could recall exactly what I had to provide the Navy in order to claim the stepdaughter as a dependent. I don't think a custody agreement was a part of it, but I could be wrong.

As for the GI Bill--all it cares about is how many months (of benefits) you've assigned to the individual. If the individual is on the list of dependents it pulls from DEERS, it doesn't worry about justifications.
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Old 04-26-2011, 02:41 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Originally Posted by flyboy View Post
As for the GI Bill--all it cares about is how many months (of benefits) you've assigned to the individual. If the individual is on the list of dependents it pulls from DEERS, it doesn't worry about justifications.
Thanks flyboy. That was my understanding as well. As long as the individual was listed in DEERS, then the GI Bill benefits can be assigned.

Am I correct that you as the service person, need to determine how many months of benefits you are assigning to a specific beneficiary? I.e. you have a maximum of 36 months that you can dole out, among all of your beneficiaries.
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:38 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
Thanks. So the fact that my son's stepdad doesn't really financially support my son has no bearing on his ability to assign his GI Bill benefits to him? All that is considered is the marital relationship to his mother? Doesn't sound quite right, but the government has done stranger things.
Your son lives in his house and eats his food at least 50% of the time, right? Then he is financially supporting him. Even if your child-support covers 100% of the bills, all the Army sees is a child of a Soldier's spouse who lives in their house. That child is eligible to be enrolled in DEERS. Taxes and what IRS considers a "dependant" are unrelated.
If the child is enrolled in DEERS, the Post 911 GI Bill can be transferred to him. If the marriage ends in divorce and the Soldier never adopted the child, then the child is no longer eligible to be in DEERS and the GI Bill can no longer be transferred to him. He also loses his Tricare coverage effective the date of the divorce.
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:43 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Little View Post
We share joint physical custody. He is with us each 50% of the time. I am responsible for 100% of his support, as his mother does not work.
How do you figure 100% of the support? If he is living in another house 50% of the time, then how can you say you are providing 100% of the support? Are you paying for food, gas, clothing, a percentage of the rent they pay on the larger house (which has one bedroom more than the house they would need if your son didn't sleep there half the time)? I don't get why you think it is odd for the Army to see him as the Soldier's dependant.
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Old 04-26-2011, 03:52 PM
Bear_Nenno Bear_Nenno is offline
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Omar, I sent you a PM.
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  #12  
Old 04-26-2011, 03:52 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
How do you figure 100% of the support? If he is living in another house 50% of the time, then how can you say you are providing 100% of the support? Are you paying for food, gas, clothing, a percentage of the rent they pay on the larger house (which has one bedroom more than the house they would need if your son didn't sleep there half the time)? I don't get why you think it is odd for the Army to see him as the Soldier's dependant.
I figure 100% of the support, because they don't come close to using my monthly child support solely on my son. It supplements their household income. My estimate is that my child support payment represents about 1/3 of their household income, and he's only there 1/2 of the time. So yes, I do consider that I contribute to actually more than 100% of my son's support.

It's also not unreasonable for me to expect that the US government would use the same rules to determine how someone could claim another as a dependent whether it be for tax reporting purposes or for benefit purposes within the US military.

But the fact that they apparently do use different rules, is a benefit for my son. I'm just wanting to make sure that my son is not illegally receiving a benefit that he is not entitled to. And potentially face bigger problems down the road.
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Old 04-26-2011, 04:45 PM
flyboy flyboy is offline
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Yes, it's up to me to dole out whatever amount of months to each person on the list.

Don't sweat the deal. Someone at some point determined your son could be entered into DEERS (I'm assuming there was no deception in that process). At that point, he's entitled to quite a bit. If there's a problem later on, I imagine it would fall squarely on the shoulders of the servicemember.
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  #14  
Old 04-26-2011, 04:51 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Thanks. I truly appreciate the dialogue and it will be helpful to have as much information as possible as we make decisions about my son's educational future.
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  #15  
Old 04-26-2011, 05:58 PM
shellofmyformerself shellofmyformerself is offline
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Just a side note, you can go back and change the amount later, but you can't designate benefits later. If you think there is a chance you may want to give someone benefits later, you must designate them now.
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