Basic Eligibility Requirements

General Rule for Eligibility
A veteran is eligible for VA home loan benefits if he or she served on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard after September 15, 1940, and was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable after either:

  • 90 days or more, any part of which occurred during wartime, or
  • 181 continuous days or more (peacetime).

2-year Requirement: A greater length of service is required for veterans who

  • enlisted (and service began) after September 7, 1980, or
  • entered service as an officer after October 16, 1981.

These veterans must have completed either

  • 24 continuous months of active duty, or
  • the full period for which called or ordered to active duty, but not less than 90 days (any part during wartime) or 181 continuous days (peacetime).

Note: Cases involving other than honorable discharges will usually require further development by VA. This is necessary to determine if the service was under other than dishonorable conditions.

Wartime and Peacetime
Wartime and peacetime refer to the following periods of service:

World War II
Post World War II period
Korean conflict
Post Korean period
Vietnam Era
(The Vietnam Era begins 2/28/1961 for those individuals who served in the Republic of Vietnam.)
Post Vietnam period
Persian Gulf War
8/2/1990—date to be determined

Eligibility for Reserves and/or Guard
Members of the Reserves and National Guard who are not otherwise eligible for loan guaranty benefits are eligible upon completion of 6 years service in the Reserves or Guard (unless released earlier due to a service-connected disability.) The applicant must have received an honorable (a general or under honorable conditions is not qualifying) discharge from such service unless he or she is either

  • in an inactive status awaiting final discharge, or
  • still serving in the Reserves or Guard.

Eligibility of Spouses of Veterans
Some spouses of veterans may have home loan eligibility. They are:

  • the unmarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of service or service-connected causes,
  • the surviving spouse of a veteran who dies on active duty or from service-connected causes, who remarries on or after age 57 and on or after December 16, 2003, and
  • the spouse of an active duty member who is listed as missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days. Eligibility under this MIA/POW provision is limited to one-time use only.

Other Qualifying Service
Congress has periodically granted veteran status to groups other than members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, such as certain members of the Public Health Service, cadets at the service academies, certain merchant seaman, etc.

You should contact the Eligibility Center for assistance when one of these unique cases is encountered.

Exceptions to Length of Service Requirements
There are numerous exceptions to the length of service requirements outlined in this section. For example, one day of service is sufficient for an individual who is discharged or released from service (regular active duty or Reserve/Guard) due to a service-connected disability.

Because of the complexity and number of exceptions, this chapter does not attempt to cover all of them. Because there are exceptions, lenders should not assume a veteran is not eligible. Instead, they should make application and allow VA to make a formal determination of eligibility.

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