The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ home loan guaranty program enables eligible borrowers to apply for a VA loan to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. But who is eligible for this program?
The answer is not everyone, but more people than might be obvious. Here’s an overview.
U.S. Military Veterans
Most veterans must complete a minimum term of qualifying active-duty service to be eligible for a VA loan, though this requirement does have a few exceptions.
The minimum term of service varies depending on the dates of that service.
Veterans Serving From August 2, 1990 Through The Present Day
Veterans who served from August 2, 1990 through the present day must have completed 24 months of continuous service or a full period of at least 90 days during which they were called or ordered to active duty.
Veterans Serving From September 8, 1980 Through August 1, 1990
Veterans who served from September 8, 1980, through August 1, 1990, must have completed 24 months of continuous service or a full period of at least 181 days of active duty. The beginning date that applies to officers for this requirement is October 17, 1981.
Veterans Serving From May 8, 1975 Through September 7, 1980
Veterans who served from May 8, 1975, through September 7, 1980, must have completed 181 continuous days of active duty. The ending date that applies to officers for this requirement is October 16, 1981.
Veterans Serving From August 5, 1964 Through May 7, 1975
Veterans who served from August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, must have completed 90 days of active duty. The beginning date that applies to veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam for this requirement is February 28, 1961.
Veterans Serving From February 1, 1955 Through August 4, 1964
Veterans who served from February 1, 1955 through August 4, 1964 must have completed 181 continuous days of active duty.
Veterans Serving From June 27, 1950 Through January 31, 1955
Veterans who served from June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955 must have completed 90 days of active duty.
Veterans Serving From July 26, 1947 Through June 26, 1950
Veterans who served from July 26, 1947 through June 26, 1950 must have completed 181 continuous days of active duty.
Veterans Serving From September 16, 1940 Through July 25, 1947
Veterans who served from September 16, 1940 through July 25, 1947 must have completed 90 days of active duty.
Additional Eligibility Requirements For Veterans
Veterans who were discharged due to hardship, government convenience, reduction-in-force, certain medical conditions or a disability connected to military service can be eligible for a VA loan even if they don’t meet the minimum term of service requirement.
Veterans who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible for the VA home loan program.
VA Loan Eligibility For Non-Veterans
The VA home loan program is available to non-veterans, too. This eligibility class includes certain active military borrowers, their families, and others.
Servicepersons On Active Duty
Active-duty servicepersons can be eligible for a VA loan after they have served 90 days of continuous active duty. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are eligible.
Some military spouses can be eligible for a VA loan, too.
If the serviceperson to whom the spouse is married is alive, the spouse can be eligible if the serviceperson has been officially declared missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days. This eligibility is limited to one-time use.
If the serviceperson to whom the spouse was married has died, the surviving spouse can be eligible if he or she hasn’t remarried and the serviceperson died on active duty, was a totally disabled veteran or was a veteran who died as a result of a service-connected disability.
Spouses who have remarried may be subject to more complicated rules. A consultation with a VA loan expert is advised to determine eligibility.
A spouse who obtained a VA home loan with an active-duty serviceperson or veteran who subsequently died can be eligible to refinance that VA loan with a new VA loan at a lower interest rate through the VA streamlined refinance program. The serviceperson’s or veteran’s death need not be related to his or her service in this case.
Children of active-duty servicepersons or veterans, whether alive or deceased, aren’t eligible for VA loans as a benefit of the parent’s service.
Reservists and National Guard Members
Members of the National Guard and Reserves can be eligible for VA loans if they have completed six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard and they continue to serve in the Selected Reserve or were honorably discharged, placed on the retired list or transferred after honorable service to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve.
Other People Eligible for VA Loans
Individuals who have completed service with certain federal government organizations also can be eligible for VA loans.
Examples include cadets at the U.S. Military, Air Force or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, World War II merchant seamen, U.S. Public Health Service officers and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration officers.
Getting Your VA Loan Approval
The VA loan program is federally-supported and “guaranteed”. This means that the U.S. government protects VA lenders against loss in the event of a VA loan default. Because of this guarantee, VA mortgage rates often feature more favorable rates and terms as compared to conventional mortgages.
Confirm your VA eligibility with a loan officer, and get today’s mortgage rates. Get started online. There’s no commitment and no social security number required.