va loan eligibility

I Served My Country; When am I Eligible for a VA Loan?

VA Loan eligibility is established through time served. VA Loans are a great choice for most veterans. However, there are different requirements that determine eligibility and many pertain to time.

VA loans call for different requirements depending on when you served, your rank, and your branch. In addition, members who were discharged dishonorably are ineligible to receive a VA Loan.  Clearly, in this situation the veteran would lose all military benefits. Other cases might not be so cut and dry. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs gives specific guidelines on the subject.  We’ve taken some time to share this information with you, and hope you find it helpful!

Rules for Veterans and Active Service members:

The amount of time you need to serve in order to qualify for a VA Loan varies depending upon when you were considered “active duty.”  The official website for the Department of Veterans Affairs breaks it down according to date and historical conflict.

  • If you are a veteran of World War II…
    • You need to have served for at least 90 days total.
    • The qualifying date range is between September 16 of 1940 and July 25 of 1947.
  • If you were in the armed forces directly following WWII but before the Korean War…
    • You must have served for at least 181 continuous days.
    • The qualifying date range is between July 26 of 1947 and June 26 of 1950.
  • If you are a veteran of the Korean War…
    • You need to have served for at least 90 days total.
    • The qualifying date range is between June 27 of 1950 and January 31 of 1955.
  • If you were in the armed forces directly following the Korean War but before the Vietnam War…
    • You must have served for at least 181 continuous days.
    • The qualifying date range is between February 1 of 1955 and August 4 of 1964.
  • If you are a veteran of the Vietnam War…
    • You need to have served for at least 90 days total.
    • The qualifying date range is between August 5 of 1964 and May 7 of 1975. However, if you served in the Republic of Vietnam (AKA South Vietnam, which no longer exists as an independent nation), you could have started your service as early as February 28 of 1961.
  • If you were in the armed forces directly following the Vietnam War but before the 24-Month Rule went into effect…
    • You must have served for at least 181 continuous days.
    • The qualifying date range is between May 8 of 1975 and September 7 of 1980. For officers, the end of this date range actually extends to October 16 of 1981.
  • If you were in the armed forces after the 24-Month Rule went into effect but before the Gulf War…
    • You must have served at least 24 continuous months, or the full period of time you were ordered for active duty if it was less than 24 months. In this case, you only needed to have served for 181 days or more.
    • The qualifying date range is between September 8 of 1980 and August 1 of 1990. For officers, this date range does not begin until October 17 of 1981.
  • If you are a veteran of the Gulf War, or served and were discharged at any point after that conflict…
    • You must have served at least 24 continuous months, or the full period of time you were ordered for active duty if it was less than 24 months. In this case, you only needed to have served for 90 days or more.
    • The qualifying date range is between August 2 of 1990 and the present day.
  • If you are currently on active duty with the armed forces:
    • You need to have served for at least 90 days.
    • There is no qualifying date range.

“I Served in the National Guard and Army Reserve.”

Now, members of the National Guard and Army Reserve can receive VA loans.  There are a few more restrictions in place, though, so read carefully to be sure that you qualify before you set out to secure your loan!

  • You need to have served at least 90 days of active duty during a period of wartime, OR have been discharged from active duty as a direct result of a service-connected disability, OR spent 6 years in service to the Selected Reserve or National Guard.
  • For the six years of service option, you must also do one of the following:
    • Receive an honorable discharge.
    • Be placed on the Retirement List.
    • Be transferred to the Standby Reserve with a record of “honorable” behavior.
    • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve.

“According to these rules, I should be eligible for a VA Home Loan.  How do I move forward?”

Depending upon the nature of your service (Active Duty, Veteran, National Guard or Army Reserve), you’ll need to gather certain documentation to prove you’re qualified.  The VA website spells out the requirements in detail, so gathering the necessary information should be relatively simple.  If you have any questions, you can always call the VA at 1-800-827-1000, or seek guidance from a local chapter of The American Legion.

Once your paperwork is in order, you can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE).  This is where your prospective lender—one specialized in VA Loans—can step in to help!  Most lenders will have access to the VA’s WebLGY system. Lenders use this system to find a Service member’s records, determine eligibility, and issue a CoE in one fell swoop.  After that, your lender will walk you through the rest of the mortgage-acquisition process. While you can fill out a paper application or an online application on your own, a specialized VA Lender will streamline the process!

Final Thoughts

All things considered, two veterans who served at different times, achieved different distinctions, or served in different branches may need to adhere to different requirements! As your financial advocates, we sincerely hope this guide has been helpful to you. Regardless of the path you took to become eligible for your loan, be sure of one thing; VA Lending Group wants to hear from you!

 

Photo courtesy of Dafne Cholet on Flickr