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Who is eligible for VA loan benefits?

The men and women of the U.S. military represent the best of America, whether they’re on active duty or career-retired veterans, newly recruited or long-tenured. They chose to enter the armed forces by their own free will and for that, the country owes them a profound debt of gratitude for serving in one of the most difficult jobs around.

One way of giving back is by making it easier for current or former service members to achieve homeownership, and many do so by leveraging U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

What makes VA loans so advantageous? Several things, but chief among them is a borrower’s ability to buy a house without a down payment. Many active duty and veteran service members take full advantage of this perk. Indeed, based on the most recent figures available from the National Association of Realtors, more than 40% of active-duty and career-retired veterans fully finance their house. And that's just one of the variety of benefits that current and former members of the military get when they take out a VA loan. These types of loans are by far the most popular mortgage product among military members past and present.

You may wonder what the qualifications are to be eligible for such a loan. If you're in the military or retired military and looking to buy or refinance, how you answer the following questions should provide some guidance.

How many days of active duty service have you acquired?

There are two ways of answering this question, and it depends on whether the period is considered to be wartime or peacetime. If you apply during a period in which Congress has made a formal declaration of war — as stipulated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution — you're eligible after serving 90 consecutive days on active duty.

During peacetime, on the other hand, the consecutive-day tally required is longer — 181 days, slightly more than double the wartime amount.

Perhaps you're in the National Guard or Reserves. Since most members of the National Guard are on standby mode and only enter active duty when they're called up, satisfying the requirement is a little different. If you've been in either the National Guard or Reserves for six years or on active-duty for 90 days between Aug. 2, 1990 and the present, you should be able to fill out an application form without any issues.

When did you serve?

Maybe your days of active duty are in the rearview mirror and you're wondering how many consecutive days of service you need to satisfy. If you visit VA.gov, you'll see a chart that breaks down the minimum active-duty service requirements to get your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). As you'll discover, a significant portion of America's history has been spent in wartime, thus the consecutive days of service stipulation is shorter.

Are you the spouse of someone who died while serving?

Unmarried surviving spouses are eligible for a variety of benefits. This includes VA loans, if your spouse died in the line of duty or from a disability they sustained as a result of their service. You may also be able to apply if your spouse is a prisoner of war or missing in action.

If any one of these requirements apply to you, a VA loan could be yours. You signed up for the military; make this the time to sign up for a VA loan. Contact us at Residential Mortgage Services today. We're here to serve you. You can get in touch with us via email or phone if you have any questions or concerns related to eligibility as a veteran, military spouse or active duty personnel.