Your eligibility is established by receiving your Certificate of Eligibility, which is obtained by filling out the VA form 26-1880 and submitting it to the VA for review. Getting your COE is the first step in applying for a VA loan, and can be done on your own or with a lender, online or in the mail.
; that is up to the individual lender and is subject to whether you meet the financial requirements for loan approval. Below are explanations of the different categories of service and the requirements for each.
Wartime Service– If you served during WWII (9/16/1940 to 7/25/1947), the Korean War (6/27/1950 to 1/31/1955), or the Vietnam War (8/5/1964 to 5/7/1975), then you must have served for at least 90 days on active duty and have any discharge other than dishonorable. An exception to the 90 days requirement can be granted if discharge was due to a service-related disability. See a VA-approved lender for more information on getting your Certificate of Eligibility and qualifying for a VA loan.
Peacetime- If you served during any period prior to 1980 that was not during wartime (dates listed above), you would be classified under this category. Requirements for eligibility for service during this time frame include at least 181 days of continuous active duty status. To be eligible, you must also have received a discharge other than dishonorable. Just like for wartime service, if you were discharged prior to 181 days due to a service-related disability, an exception may be granted to allow you to be eligible for a VA loan.
Post 1980/1981 (Enlisted/Officer) Service– If your military service began after 9/7/1980 (enlisted) or 10/1601981 (officer), then you’ll be under more strict service requirements. You must have completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period that you were ordered to active duty as long as it was at least 181 days. This stipulation exists for those ordered off of active duty for reasons outside their control before the 24 month requirement. Discharge must also be other than dishonorable in order to be eligible. Individuals discharged with less than 181 days of active service for service-related disabilities are also eligible. Other reasons for discharge outside the control of the service member can also make the veteran eligible. These reasons include involuntary reduction in force, some medical conditions, or convenience of the Government.
Gulf War– If you began service after 8/2/1990 you are considered a Gulf War veteran. For a Gulf War veteran to be eligible for the VA loan program, they must have completed 24 months of continuous active duty or the full period that you were ordered to active duty as long as it was at least 90 days or have been discharged prior to 90 days of service due to a service-related disability. You must have a discharge other than dishonorable.= in order to be eligible.
Active Duty– If you’re currently on regular duty (as opposed to active duty for training), you need to serve for 181 days (unless you began during the Gulf War, then it is only 90 days).
Reserves and National Guard– In order for a Guard/Reservist to be eligible, assuming they are not otherwise eligible from previous military service, he or she needs to complete a total of 6 years of service in the Reserved or Guard. This includes attending required weekend drills and 2-week active duty training every year. Upon discharge, an honorable discharge must be received, or the veteran must have been placed on the retired list or the Standby Reserve after honorable service.
Surviving Spouse– Spouses of veterans who died in service or due to a service-related disability can be eligible for VA loan benefits providing. Requirements vary based on time frame and age; speak with a VA-approved lender to find out if you could be eligible for VA loan benefits