Are You Eligible for a VA Loan?

August 9, 2016
Last updated:
March 9, 2022
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You already know that one of the benefits of military service (in addition to the gratitude of your fellow citizens) is the VA Home Loan program. The VA loan provides an opportunity for qualified veterans to buy a home with some unique advantages:

  • NO down payment (100% financing)
  • NO mortgage insurance
  • Interest rates lower than the rest of the market
  • Relaxed qualifying standards

What you may not know is how long you must have served in order to qualify for this exceptional mortgage program. Here is the straight story, directly from the Veterans Administration.

What is the time in service required to qualify for a VA loan?

In general, if you served during any active conflict (World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War), you must have served for at least 90 days as an active duty service member. The time does NOT have to be concurrent.

For the post-conflict times, you must serve 181 CONTINUOUS days. The periods are as follows:

  • Post WW II (7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950)
  • Post Korean War (2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964)
  • Post-Vietnam War (5/8/1975 – 9/7/1980) For officers, the ending date is 10/16/81

For those who served during the Gulf War (8/2/1990-present), the requirement is for 24 continuous months OR the full period for which you were called to active duty, but at least 90 days.

If you are presently on active duty, you are eligible for a VA loan once you have served at least 90 days of active duty.

I’ve served, but not on active duty. What are the conditions for me to get a VA loan?

For members of the National Guard and Reserves, you must have 90 days of active service if you served during the Gulf War period (8/2/1990-present). National Guard and Reserve members also qualify with 6 years’ service if they

  • Were discharged honorably OR
  • Retired OR
  • They were transferred to the Ready Reserve OR
  • They continue to serve in the Selected Reserve.

Can those who are not US military veterans get a VA loan?

Widows of deceased veterans may also qualify for VA financing under these conditions:

  • Their spouse died while in service or from a service connected disability AND they have not remarried OR
  • Their spouse is Missing In Action (MIA) or a Prisoner Of War (POW)

A surviving spouse can remarry and still qualify provided that they are 57 years of age or older, on or after December 16, 2003.

There are some other eligible veterans:

  • US Citizens who served in the armed services of a government allied with the U.S during WWII
  • Individuals with service as members of certain organizations, such as undergraduates at any of the U.S. military academies
  • Officers of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Merchant seamen with service during WWII

What if I don’t meet one of these criteria for a VA loan?

If you don’t meet one of these criteria, you are not eligible to apply for a VA loan yourself, but you may assume a VA loan from a veteran under certain special circumstances.

There is a catch, though. The original veteran’s entitlement will be tied up with that loan until it is paid off. This will reduce the amount of loan guarantee available for reuse. The entitlement will be restored to the veteran under the following conditions:

  • The original loan has been paid off OR
  • The buyer assuming the VA loan is a qualifying veteran and substitutes his or her VA entitlement for the loan he or she assuming. This will free up the full entitlement.

I think I qualify for a VA loan, but how can I be sure?

You can determine your eligibility by submitting VA form 26-1880. The simplest and quickest way to do this is to contact us to ask a loan officer to do it for you. There is no charge for this service, and if you like, you can begin the loan application process following your verification.

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Ready to Apply For a Mortgage?

Do you have questions about home loans? Are you ready to apply for a mortgage to buy a home? If so, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We are a local mortgage company from Bellevue, Washington serving the entire state, as well as Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. We offer many mortgage programs to buyers all over the Pacific Northwest and have been doing so since 1992. Contact us today with any questions you have about mortgages.

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