Federal Court Overturns Decision That Would Have Given Certain Vets More GI Bill Money
A federal court has overturned a ruling that would have given Veterans extra GI Bill benefits under the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills. The decision could have a large impact on Veterans across the nation.
The case in question dates back to 2021 when a Federal Circuit panel ruled that Army Veteran James Rudisill should be able to get the maximum amount GI Bill education benefits.
Rudisill's attorney argued he was entitled to received 48 months from both the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills since he served in the Army first as an enlisted soldier and then as an officer.
However, here's what's happening now, via Military.com:
A three-judge panel sided with Rudisill in July 2021, but the federal government petitioned for the case to be heard by the full court. In its decision, handed down Dec. 15, the court ruled that the law states that if a person has some used benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill program and elects to receive benefits under the Post-9/11 program, the benefits will be limited to one month, or a partial month, of entitlement under the Post-9/11 GI Bill for each month of unused benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill. The statute is "unambiguous," the judges wrote.
Rudisill's attorneys are appealing this new decision and claiming it goes against veterans' traditional understanding of benefits as they are earned for specific qualifying service. They assert that since Rudisill had different periods for which he qualified for different benefits, he should be able to use them both to the maximum allowable amount.
Timothy McHugh, one of Rudisill's attorneys, is taking the case pro bono and plans to file a writ of certiorari in February petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court on Rudisill's behalf. He emphasized the fact that these benefits were meant to recognize wartime service and be an additional benefit on top of the Montgomery GI Bill, not an either/or program.
Data provided to Rudisill's attorneys under the Freedom of Information Act showed the vast amount of veterans this affects, and McHugh hopes the Supreme Court will make a decision that benefits them all.