Surviving Spouse Eligibility

While children of veterans are not eligible for a VA loan, surviving spouses may be eligible if they fall into one of the VA’s three basic areas of consideration.

To be eligible for a VA loan as a surviving spouse, one of the following must apply:

  • The unmarried surviving spouse of a Veteran who died while on active-duty or from a service-connected cause (disability) and the surviving spouse didn’t remarry.
  • If the surviving spouse remarries on or after age 57, and on or after December 16, 2003, they may still be eligible.
  • Spouse of an active-duty member who is listed as Missing in Action (MIA) or Prisoner of War (POW) for at least 90 days. One-time use of eligibility for MIA/POW provision is allowed.
  • Had been classified as totally disabled and then died, but their disability wasn’t the cause of death (in certain situations).
  • Had been classified as totally disabled and then died, but their disability wasn’t the cause of death (in certain situations).

 

However, the above criteria were slightly expanded by the Veterans’ Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act. Following the passage of this act, surviving spouses who remarried can still use the VA Home Loan as long as they:

  • Remarried but are now divorced from the new spouse
  • Remarried but the marriage ended due to the death of the new spouse

Spouse Eligibility

The VA’s regulations regarding surviving spouses and home loan benefits are pretty clear cut. There are three basic areas of consideration for military spouses looking to utilize the guaranty program:

Surviving spouse of a Veteran who died from non-service-connected causes may be eligible if any of the following apply:

  • The veteran was rated totally disabled for 10 years or more prior to death.
  • The veteran was rated totally disabled for at least 5 years from the date of discharge/release from active duty to date of death.
  • The veteran was a former POW who died after September 9, 1999, and was rated totally disabled for at least 1 year immediately preceding death.
  • Surviving spouse who is eligible for or in receipt of Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
    The funding Fee is waived for surviving spouses receiving DIC.

VA will designate the DIC to valid ‘surviving spouse’ claims. DIC designation from VA should be obtained prior to application.

A surviving spouse using their benefit must submit a VA Form 26-1817 to the VA for review in order to obtain a COE.

A VA Joint Loan is where a veteran and a person or persons other than their spouse is either on loan or title.

VA IRRRL Only: A surviving spouse is eligible for a VA IRRRL loan regardless of whether or not the client’s spouse passed during their military service. See the VA IRRRL Client Eligibility page for additional guidance.

VA Joint Loans are not allowed except on VA IRRRL. See the VA IRRRL page for requirements.

Spouses who remarry after their significant other’s death may still be eligible for a loan, provided they did so on or after turning 57 and on or after Dec. 16, 2003. It’s important to pay close attention to the wording here. Today, the VA only grants eligibility to spouses whose veterans have some manner of service-connected death, either in active service or from a disability obtained while serving.

In 2011, the U.S. House passed a bill that would extend eligibility to surviving spousesof veterans who suffered any permanent disability, regardless of whether it was connected to military service.

This legislation opened the door to homeownership for more military spouses every year.

Surviving Children

VA home loan benefits don’t extend to the children of veterans. There hasn’t been much appetite to change this legislatively or elsewhere. Prospective buyers can check with their state or county housing officials to see if there are any localized programs that provide benefits to children of deceased veterans.