VA Home Loan Eligibility

Updated: June 22, 2020

Who qualifies?

To qualify for a VA home loan, you must have served 90 days of active duty service during war time or 181 days during peace time. The spouse of a service member who died in the line of duty or as a result of service-connected disability may also be eligible.

How do I get started?

Your first step is to obtain a Certificate of Eligibility. This is a VA form commonly referred to as a COE and it documents your eligibility for a VA approved lender. 

How do I apply for a COE?

Online: You may apply for your COE online by visiting eBenefits or clicking here

Through your lender: Sometimes you can obtain your COE through your lender using the VA's Web LGY system. Ask your lender about this option.

By mailTo apply by mail, fill out a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880) and mail it to the address listed on the form. Please keep in mind that this may take longer than applying online or through the Web LGY system. Click here to download VA Form 26-1880

What information do I need to gather when applying for my COE?

Veteran


If you are a veteran you will need a copy of your discharge papers (DD-214).




Active Duty


If you are an active duty service member you will need a statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer showing the following information:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your social security number
  • Your date of birth
  • The date you entered duty
  • The duration of any lost time
  • The name of the command providing the information




Current or former activated National Guard or Reserve Member


If you are a current or former activated National Guard or Reserve Member you will need a copy of your discharge papers (DD-214).




Current member of the National Guard or Reserves who has never been activated


If you are a current member of the National Guard or Reserves and have never been activated you will need a statement of service signed by your commander, adjutant, or personnel officer showing the following information:

  • Your full legal name
  • Your social security number
  • Your date of birth
  • The date you entered duty
  • The duration of any lost time
  • The name of the command providing the information




Discharged member of the National Guard who was never activated


If you are a discharged member of the National Guard and were never activated, you will need the following:

  • Your Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22) for each period of National Guard service
  • Your Retirement Points Statement (NGB Form 23) and proof of the character of service




Discharged member of the Reserves who was never activated


If you are a discharged member of the Reserves and were never activated, you will need:

  • A copy of your latest annual retirement points
  • Proof of your honorable service




Surviving spouse of a veteran who died on active duty or who had a service connected disability


If you are a surviving spouse who qualifies for home loan benefits, you will need the veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214) and if you are receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you will need to fill out and send a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility—Unmarried Surviving Spouses (VA Form 26-1817).

If you are not receiving DIC benefits, you will need to send the following:

  • A completed Application for DIC, Death Pension and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ)
  • A copy of your marriage license
  • The veteran’s death certificate





What if I don't meet the minimum service requirements?

You may still be able to obtain a COE if you were discharged for one of the following reasons:

  • Hardship

  • The convenience of the government (you must have served at least 20 months of a 2 year enlistment)

  • Early out (you must have served 21 months of a 2-year enlistment)

  • Reduction in force

  • Certain qualifying medical conditions

  • A service connected disability

 

I am the spouse of a veteran. Can I obtain a COE?

 

You may be able to get a COE if you’re the surviving spouse of a veteran or the spouse of a veteran who is missing in action or being held as a prisoner of war (POW).

What are the next steps for obtaining a VA Home Loan?

In addition to applying for your COE you must also satisfy your lender’s credit and income loan requirements to receive financing for a VA home loan.

 

Can I use a COE I used before?

Sometimes you may be able to "restore" an entitlement you used in the past to purchase another home. In order to do this you must meet at least one of the following requirements: 

  • You sold the home you bought with the prior loan and have paid that loan in full

  • A qualified veteran transferee agrees to assume your loan and substitute their entitlement for the same amount of entitlement you used originally

  • You have repaid your prior loan in full, but haven’t sold the home you bought with that loan (you can only do this one time)

 

To request an entitlement restoration, you must complete a Request for a Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880) and send it to the VA regional loan center for your state. Click here to download VA Form 26-1880 and  Find your state's VA regional loan center. 

What if I have additional questions? 

If you have any additional questions about your VA Home Loan eligibility or would like to begin the process please contact VETLIFE's trusted partner Gold Star Mortgage Financial Group.

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