The death of a military service member can bring both emotional and financial challenges for the surviving spouse. In addition to navigating grief, surviving spouses often struggle when it comes to financial planning and housing stability. One resource that can alleviate some of these pressures is the VA loan program.
In this article, we’ll cover the requirements and processes a surviving spouse must know when using a VA loan. By understanding the full scope of what a VA loan offers, surviving spouses can make the best-informed decisions about homeownership during a difficult transition period.
Yes, surviving spouses of Veterans and service members can access VA loan benefits to buy, refinance or enhance their homes. However, it's not an automatic process. Surviving spouses must still meet specific eligibility requirements to fully qualify for a VA loan.
Typically, surviving spouses are eligible for a VA loan if they didn't remarry and the loved one died while serving or was a Veteran who died from a service-connected disability.
Surviving spouses will also be eligible for a VA loan if one of the following conditions are true:
If you remarried after turning 57 or after December 16, 2003, and meet one of the conditions mentioned above, you may also qualify.
Unfortunately, family members are not “automatically” eligible when a Veteran or service member passes. Surviving spouses are the only individuals other than military members who may be eligible and use the VA home loan benefit.
However, dependent children or caregivers may still qualify for other VA benefits, including health care, educational opportunities, employment training, financial counseling and more.
The VA loan process as a surviving spouse follows the same steps a Veteran or service member must undergo. Initial steps involve meeting the credit, income and financial benchmarks VA lenders set, followed by submitting an application and necessary documentation.
The most important document you'll need to acquire is your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The COE confirms that you are eligible for a VA loan and includes an entitlement code that details your eligibility. Surviving spouses typically receive Entitlement Code 06 or Entitlement Code 07.
While the COE can be acquired independently online or via traditional mail, the quickest way often involves seeking assistance from your lender. The process can be expedited with their expertise, getting you one step closer to realizing the dream of homeownership with the VA loan benefit your spouse valiantly earned.