Which Veterans Are Eligible For VA Home Loan Benefits?
In 1944, the U.S. government's GI Bill of Rights introduced the VA Loan Guaranty program.
By 2011, the program which grants housing benefits to veterans at a very low cost, helped to fund more than $40 billion worth of home purchases nationwide, plus an additional $38 billion in refinances.
So what makes the VA program so popular? Aside from low interest rates, VA home loans allow for 100% financing, waive the need for mortgage insurance, and give access to one of the simplest refinance program available -- the VA Streamline Refinance.
VA Home Loans : Eligibility Standards
As a program for military borrowers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs requires that all VA mortgage applicants meet certain minimum standards related to military service. Standards vary depending on whether you served during wartime or peacetime.
For example, individuals serving during World War II, the Korean War, and/or the Vietnam War, must show at least 90 days on active duty, and discharge under any condition other than dishonorable.
Individuals servicing during peacetime from 1947-1981 must show at least 181 days of continuous duty, and discharge under any condition other than dishonorable.
In both of the above examples, service-connected disabilities preclude the minimum 90- and 181-day standards.
Service After 9/7/1980 (Enlisted) And 10/16/1981 (Officer)
VA home loan eligibility standards change for servicemen and servicewomen enlisted after September 7, 1980; and for officers serving after October 16, 1981.
If your dates of military service include the dates above and you have since separated from the service, you must show at least 24 months of continuous active duty, or the complete period for which you were called to active duty then discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
For veterans with fewer than 181 days of service, proof of discharge from a service-connected disability must be shown, or evidence that the discharge was tied to involuntary reduction, specific medical conditions, or "government convenience".
Special provisions are also made for individuals discharged because of Hardship (10 USC 1173) or Early Out (10 USC 1171).
Gulf War Service From 8/2/1990 To As-Yet-Undetermined Date
Gulf War veterans have specific VA home loan eligibility standards, too.
Mortgage applicants with Gulf War experience must show 24 months or more of continuous active duty, or the complete period for which they were called to active duty then discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
For Gulf War vets with fewer than 90 days of service, eligibility is granted for individuals discharged for service-connected disabilities, and for those whose discharge is linked to involuntary reduction, certain medical conditions, and "government convenience".
Individuals discharged because of Hardship (10 USC 1173) or Early Out (10 USC 1171) are granted VA home loan eligibility as well.
Selected Reserves And National Guard Members
VA home loan eligibility is extended to members of the Selected Reserves and National Guard, assuming several initial conditions are met :
- Borrower must have served at least 6 years
- Borrower must have attended weekend drills
- Borrower must have attended 2-week active training for duty
Borrowers who continue to serve today are eligible, as are the Selected Reserves and National Guard members who were honorably discharged, placed on the retired list, or transferred to the Standby Reserve or Ready Reserve after honorable service.
Individuals with fewer than 6 years of service are eligible if discharged for a service-related disability.
Surviving Spouses And Spouses Of POW/MIA Servicepersons
In some cases, VA home loan benefits extend to spouses of military personnel, too -- specifically, to unremarried surviving spouses and spouses of POW and MIA servicemen and servicewomen.
Surviving spouses who remarry after attaining age 57 may be VA home loan-eligible, too.
Other Eligible Military Borrowers
Lastly, the Department of Veterans Benefits makes the VA Home Loan Guaranty program available to members of certain organizations, including :
- Public Health Service officers
- Air Force, Coast Guards and U.S. Military cadets
- U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officers
- Merchant season with WWII experience
Apply For A VA Home Loan
VA mortgages offer low downpayment options, low mortgage rates, and never ask for mortgage insurance. For those that qualify, it's often the lowest-cost, best-valued mortgage. See what today's low VA mortgage rate can do for you.