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VA Mortgage Eligibility for Surviving Spouses

The VA home loan is a benefit earned through service and sacrifice. It isn't something that veterans can transfer to their children or share with a civilian friend. But for veterans and service members who've paid the ultimate price, their surviving spouse may be able to use this long-cherished mortgage guaranty program.

These situations usually require a closer look at the circumstances. It's ultimately up to the VA to determine whether a surviving spouse has VA home loan eligibility. Last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs backed nearly 2,500 mortgages for surviving spouses. In fact, the program's historic 20 millionth loan went to Beth Carpenter, the wife of Army Capt. Matt Carpenter, an Iraq War veteran who died of cancer.

“I don’t know what I would have done had it not been for that VA loan,” Beth told us.

Let's take a closer look at some of the general guidelines that govern this type of VA loan guaranty.

Eligibility Guidelines

The heart of the issue is typically the nature of the veteran's death and the marital status of the surviving spouse. For years, this benefit was open only to spouses whose veteran died while in service or from a service-connected disability and to spouses of a service member missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW).

In terms of eligibility, you're likely able to participate in the VA mortgage program if you're:

  • The un-remarried spouse of a veteran who died while serving or from a service-connected disability
  • The surviving spouse of a veteran who died while serving or from a service-connected disability who remarries after age 57, and on or after Dec. 16, 2003
  • A spouse of a service member who is MIA or a POW

Relatively recent legislative changes extended this benefit to additional surviving spouses. Now, you may also be eligible for a VA loan if you're the surviving spouse of a veteran who:

  • Was receiving compensation at time of death for a service-connected disability rated totally disabling
  • Was continuously rated totally disabled for at least 10 years immediately preceding death
  • Was continuously rated totally disabled for at least five years from the date of discharge or release from active duty
  • Was a former POW who died after Sept. 30, 1999, and was continuously rated totally disabled for at least one year immediately preceding death

If you believe or want to know if you're eligible and are interested in pursuing a VA home loan, you can contact a Veterans United loan specialist at 855-870-8845. You can also fill out and send in an official request for a determination from the VA.

VA Mortgage Benefits

Surviving spouses who qualify have access to the same benefits that have helped millions of veterans secure home financing since 1944. That includes being able to purchase with no money down and no mortgage insurance. VA loans also feature less stringent credit and income requirements, and they've been the safest mortgage on the market in terms of foreclosures for nearly all of the last five years.

In addition, surviving spouses are exempt from paying the VA Funding Fee, a mandatory fee that goes directly to the the loan program to cover losses and keep it going for future generations.