Court Ruling May Give Veterans More Education BenefitsFriday, August 6, 2021
Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a decision that could require the Department of Veterans Affairs to pay veterans an additional year of education benefits. Veterans education benefits would be paid under both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
An estimated 1.7 million veterans may be affected by the ruling. These veterans had previously been told to use one GI Bill program or the other, but not both. The recent ruling may change that mandate.
The court case centered around Army veteran Jim Rudisill, who served from 2000 to 2002 in the Army and 2004 to 2005 in the Army National Guard. He was wounded in Iraq in 2005 and forced to leave active duty. After completing college, Rudisill returned as an Army officer from 2007 to 2011 – a period of service that made him eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
In 2015, Rudisill applied to use his Post-9/11 GI bill to return to school. He argued that because he served in two different periods, he was entitled to the education benefits allowed from the VA by law, which are capped at 48 months. The Montgomery GI Bill benefits had provided him with 36 months of education benefits, of which he had used 25 to earn his undergraduate degree. Rudisill believed that he had earned 23 months of benefits under the more generous Post-9/11 GI bill.
After pushback from the VA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled in favor of Rudisill in 2019. The judges held that the two different GI Bills do not require a veteran to split time or relinquish their Montgomery GI Bill benefits before receiving post-9/11 GI bill benefits. Last month, on July 8th, two out of the three judges on the federal circuit court agreed, saying that Rudisill was entitled to the full benefits under both GI Bills.
While they ruled in favor of Rudisill, this does not mean that every veteran in the same position will immediately be entitled to the same education benefits. The ruling serves only as a precedent for other veterans in the same situation to cite in their own fight for benefits. The court also held that their ruling only applies to those veterans who have had multiple periods of service. The ruling will not impact those “with dual entitlement based on a single period of service.”
Nevertheless, if they choose to cite, the ruling could mean millions of dollars going towards education benefits for veterans in the same situation as Rudisill. The VA has 60 days to appeal the court’s ruling. The department has stated that they have yet to make a decision.
Our New York disability lawyers are proud to assist veterans with benefits claims. Call us at 855-208-7783 or complete an online intake form on our website to schedule a free initial consultation today. We serve Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, and more.