Back to Basics: Are You Eligible for a VA Loan?

Maybe you’re eligible for a VA loan, but just never knew it before.  Just in case you’re in that boat, this article is for you.  Find out  all the eligibility requirements straight from the VA Lender’s Handbook as of October 2015. For the most part, if you enlisted in the military, served until your discharge date, and were discharged honorably, you will probably be eligible for the VA loan program, but there are some specific rules and requirements that apply depending upon when you served. Discover if you’re eligible to take advantage of this great VA benefit!

Time Served and Qualifying for a VA LoanTime Served

The biggest component to whether you are eligible is how much time you have served in the military. For service members who enlisted and began service after September 1940 but before September 1980 (or October 1981 for officers), the requirement is either 90 days if at least part of it occurred during wartime, or 181 continuous days or more if service was during peacetime. If you began your service after September 1980 or October 1981 for officers, a greater length of service may be required. Usually at least 24 months of active duty is required, with an exception for those called or ordered to active duty for less than 2 years, as long as those service members served for the full period and that period was not less than 90 days (wartime) or 181 days (peacetime). The VA has listed the dates that are considered wartime and peacetime. The period of wartime for World War II is considered by the VA to have ended on 7/25/1947, which lasted for three years until 6/27/1950 when the Korean conflict is considered to have begun. Korea went until 2/1/1955, and the following nine years are considered peacetime. Vietnam is considered to have begun on 8/5/1964 and lasted until 5/7/1975. Peacetime after Vietnam lasted until 8/1/1990, when the Persian Gulf War started. The VA has not yet determined an end date, since we’ve been in and out of the middle east since then.

Reserves and National Guard

Reservists/Guards that aren’t already eligible for VA loans from prior full-time military service become eligible after completing 6 years of service in the Reserves or Guard, unless they are released earlier due to a service-connected disability. Reservists/Guards must have an honorable discharge, while full-time can have less-than-honorable and still be considered for their VA loan benefits. The only exceptions to this rule for Reservists/Guards are if they are currently in an inactive status awaiting final discharge or still serving in the Reserves or Guard and therefore have not yet received a discharge of any kind.

Spouse Eligibility

Spouse Eligibility for a VA LoanSpouses of veterans may be eligible to utilize VA loan benefits in a number of circumstances. The first circumstance is if the spouse is an unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of service or service-connected causes, the surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or from service-connected causes, who remarries on or after age 57, the spouse of an active duty member who is listed as MIA or a POW for at least 90 days, and in some some situations, the surviving spouse of a veteran who died from non-service connected causes. If a surviving spouse remarries before age 57, they are no longer eligible to use the VA loan benefits of their spouse.

Proof of Eligibility

For veterans of full-time military service, their DD214 will contain all the information needed to establish the veteran’s eligibility for the VA loan program. As long as you were discharged after 1949, you should have a DD214 or be able to obtain one from the DoD. The DD214 shows the length and character of service and gives the VA everything they need to know to establish eligibility. Active service members need to obtain a statement of service from their personnel office or commander of their unit that has their full name, their SSN, their entry date on active duty, the duration of any lost time, and the name of the command providing the information. For Reservists/Guards, there is no one form similar to the DD214 that works, so they will need to submit NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, or a retirement points statement. Those still serving in the Reserve/Guard must provide a statement of service similar to those still serving in a full-time capacity.

If you’ve decided a VA loan is right for you, or if you have any other questions, contact us.  We’d love to help in any way we can. Get the home of your dreams for you and your family!

2 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Are You Eligible for a VA Loan?

  1. Served USAF April 1966 to February 1970 honorable discharge DD214 and CG26-8320 certificate of eligibility in hand. Credit is not very good, is that a major determining factor in approval consideration . looking at home, shop and 27 acres for 170,000.00

  2. Walt,
    Congratulations on your distinguished career and thank you for your service and example. The program was made to help people just like you. We would love to help you and will reach out to you through email shortly.

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