With a VA loan certificate of eligibility in hand, veterans of the United States Armed Forces can take advantage of beneficial home loans and refinancing options. So how does one obtain this important document? The following are guidelines to help veterans, current servicemembers and unmarried surviving spouses complete the process.
The Easy Way
In the panoply of military paperwork lies VA Form 26-1880, officially called the Request for Certificate of Eligibility. VA-approved mortgage lenders with access to the webLGY system should be able to obtain it electronically for borrowers who are in the system. That's a majority of VA-eligible individuals.
The Less easy Way
Alternatively, the completed form can be submitted by the applicant online or by mail. For veterans and servicemembers whose name and information is not already in the system, additional proof of military service might need to accompany the application form.
Those who currently or formerly served in the National Guard of the Reserves who were activated at the federal level need to fill out and attach DD Form 214. Special note should be paid to the servicemember's character, or type, of service (Item 24 on the form) and the space for a description of a former member's reason for separation (Item 28).
Servicemembers on active duty at the time of application for the VA loan certificate of eligibility must also submit a written statement that includes their full name as it should appear on the certificate, date of birth and Social Security number of the applicant, active-duty dates and dates for any time lost while in service. The name of the command issuing the information should also be in this correspondence. Those currently in the National Guard or Reserve who are not assigned to federal active service may also apply in this manner, provided they submit the same written statement, making sure to include the total number of years they have served.
The written statement needs to be on military letterhead, and the signature of the adjutant, personnel office, or commanding officer of the applicant's unit needs to appear at the bottom. Personnel acting under the direction of one of these signers may also sign on his or her behalf.
Who Else Qualifies?
The VA loan certificate of eligibility is available to members of the National Guard who have been discharged and who were never activated. In this instance, NGB Form 22 must be completed and submitted. This form is also known as the Report of Separation and Record of Service, and it must be completed for each period of service in the National Guard. Alternatively, former Guard members can submit the Retirement Points Accounting paperwork, NGB Form 23, provided proof of the type of service is indicated.
Members who formerly served and were discharged from the Selected Reserve, and never saw active duty, are required to submit a copy of the most current statement from their retirement points account. Also necessary is evidence of their honorable service record.
The VA loan certificate of eligibility may also be available to surviving spouses. The survivors of servicemembers and veterans who have died are required, per the Department of Veterans Affairs, to apply by mail using VA Form 26-1817. This is a form requesting determination of loan guaranty eligibility to surviving spouses.
Accompanying the form should be documentation of the deceased servicemembers active duty and death. Surviving spouses of those who died while on active duty need to fill out DD Form 1300 (Report of Casualty), which is issued by the military, and a copy of their marriage license. Those who receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) do not have to submit either of the above-mentioned documentation.
When servicemembers have died as the result of their service and their surviving spouses who are receiving DIC should submit proof of said compensation in the form of a copy of their award letter. Those who do not receive said compensation need to submit DD Form 214, as well as copies of their marriage certificate and the deceased servicemember's death certificate.
Please note that the Social Security number of the servicemember in question must appear on all documentation.
A Note on DIC
The VA suggests that surviving spouses who have not already done so take advantage of the DIC program. A letter or memo stating that the surviving spouse would be interested in receiving DIC benefits sent to the VA is generally enough to get the ball rolling in this regard. In fact, obtaining the VA loan certificate of eligibility may also help applicants to qualify for DIC benefits.
Anyone who would like more information on the certificate of eligibility and the VA home loan guaranty program in general should contact a representative of their local VA office or center. They may also get in touch with the VAs eBenefits Help Desk by calling 1-800-983-0937.