Surviving spouses of qualified U.S. veterans are entitled to VA loan benefits if they meet eligibility requirements. They may apply for a new mortgage or, through a refinancing program, reduce the terms or rates on a pre-existing loan. VA mortgages are backed by the U.S. government which provides lenders with reimbursement if the borrower defaults on the loan. Other VA loan features for surviving spouses include:
- No down payments
- No requirements for mortgage insurance
- No prepayment penalties
- Lenders/borrowers can negotiate the interest rates
Qualifying for Veteran's Spouses
According to the VA, only military spouses (no other dependents) can apply for home loans if they can document eligibility as:
- The spouse of a prisoner of war for more than 90 days or service member missing in action
- An unmarried widow of a veteran who died in action or who died from a service-connected disability
- Or, a surviving spouse who remarries on or after their 57th birthday or after December 16, 2003
- Surviving widows of disabled veterans who died from other applicable causes
Qualified MIA/POW survivors are only eligible for one VA home loan.
Meeting Verification Requirements for VA Benefits
It's important for spouses seeking VA housing benefits to apply on their own. The VA will not automatically qualify surviving spouses following the death of their qualified veteran partners. Spouses can begin the process by submitting the Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility-Unmarried Surviving Spouses, VA form 26-1817. Applicants will also need to file the VA Request for a Certificate Of Eligibility. Completed forms should be mailed to:
VA Loan Eligibility Center
Attn: COE (262)
PO Box 100034
Decatur, GA 30031
Documentation for eligibility for a Spouse with Receiving DIC (Dependency & Indemnity Compensation) benefits:
- VA form 26-1817
- Veteran's DD214 (if available)
Documentation for eligibility for a Spouse not receiving DIC (Dependency & Indemnity Compensation) benefits:
- VA form 21-534
- DD214 (if available)
- Marriage License
- Death Certificate or DD Form 1300 (Report of Casualty)
VA Loan General Information
Loan limits for VA mortgages are currently established at $417,000 (no money down), except for counties with higher limits where housing prices exceed the government ceilings. All VA loans are assessed a funding fee by the government. The amount varies based on the type of loan, and if the borrower wants to make a down payment.
Surviving spouses can round up an estimate of monthly payments and loan limits for their communities with LendingTree's VA Loan Calculator. Spouses can enter the zip code, home price, and credit score to crunch numbers on current rates and estimated monthly payments. Need a credit score? They're available for free at LendingTree.
The VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL)
Surviving spouses may also qualify for the VA's IRRRL program to lower the interest rate on the original mortgage received by the deceased service member. Spouses can also convert an adjustable-rate mortgage into a fixed-rate loan. With IRRRL packages, surviving spouses may also roll all loan costs into the total amount. As with other VA mortgages, it pays to compare offers from participating VA lenders since there is often flexibility to negotiate the rates.