Surviving Spouses, Children and VA Loans

Surviving Spouses, Children Get VA Benefits

VA home loan benefits extend to surviving spouses of some veterans, but children of deceased veterans have none.

When it comes to VA home loan eligibility, most rules and requirements revolve around those who serve, and rightly so. The VA loan eligibility requirements can take up a good chunk of a page, and there are exceptions and unique circumstances along the way.

The only way borrowers and VA lenders can be sure about eligibility is by obtaining the veteran’s Certificate of Eligibility. As we’ve talked about before, this doesn’t need to be your first step, and obtaining the COE is something many lenders do for borrowers down the road.

But the COE becomes especially critical for military spouses left behind.

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:

  • Unremarried spouses of veterans who died while in service or from a service-connected disability
  • Spouses of service members who are missing in action (MIA) or prisoners of war (POW)
  • Spouses who with their veteran purchased a home with a VA loan are eligible to refinance using the VA Streamline program

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.

Last fall, the U.S. House passed a bill that would extend eligibility to surviving spouses of veterans who suffered any permanent disability, regardless of whether it was connected to military service. The measure appears to still be in a Senate committee.

This legislation would open the door to homeownership for thousands more military spouses every year. The VA guaranteed mortgages for 1,261 spouses in 2011, up from 1,059 in 2010.

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.

Photo courtesy of nanny snowflake