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Who is Eligible for a VA Loan ?

By Liz Clinger Updated on 6/12/2017

va loan eligibility

The Department of Veteran Affairs has specific guidelines for VA Loan eligibility that depend on the length of term served, conditions of the discharge, conditions of service (peacetime or wartime), and the branch of military served.  

If you have ever served in the miltary, read to learn more about your eligibility and the qualification process.



Wartime Eligibility for a VA Loan

According to VA Loan approval guidelines, soldiers on active duty or veterans of wartime must have served a minimum of 90 days on active duty and must not have been dishonorably discharged. Candidates for a VA Loan who have served less than 90 days during wartime may be eligible in the event of a service related disability. Service during wartime includes the following dates:


Qualifying Wartime PeriodQualifying Active Duty DatesMinimum Service Requirements
WWII9/16/1940 – 7/25/194790 total days
Korean War6/27/1950 – 1/31/195590 total days
Vietnam War8/5/1964 – 5/7/197590 total days
Gulf War8/2/1990 – ongoing24 continuous months
90 total days


Peacetime Eligibility for a VA Loan

To be eligible for a VA loan, applicants who serve during peacetime must have served for a minimum of 181 days in continuous active duty and not dishonorably discharged. 

Applicants who have served less than 181 days may still be eligible if the discharged was due to a disability related to military service. 

Service during peacetime includes the following dates:


Qualifying Peacetime PeriodQualifying DatesMinimum Service Requirements
Post-WWII7/26/1947 – 6/26/1950181 continuous days
Post-Korean War2/1/1955 – 8/4/1964181 continuous days
Post-Vietnam War8/5/1964 – 5/7/1975
The ending date for Officers is 10/16/1981 
181 continuous days

Service after 9/7/1980 (enlisted) or 10/16/1981 (officer)

If you have served on active duty after one of the above dates, to be eligible for a VA loan you must have:

  • Fulfilled 24 months of uninterrupted active duty or the full duration (90 days minimum) for which you were assigned to active duty, and not dishonorably discharged, or
  • Fulfilled at minimum 181 days of active duty and been discharged under the particular authority of 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1171 (Early Out), or have been ascertained to have a compensable disability related to service, or
  • Been discharged with less than 181 days in service as a result of a disability related to service. Individuals may also be eligible if released from active duty for an involuntary decrease in force, applicable medical conditions, or for the convenience of the government.

Service during the Gulf War: 8/2/1990 – ongoing

If you have served on active duty during the Gulf War, which includes both the Iraq War and Afghanistan War, you must satisfy the following requirements to be eligible for a VA loan:

  • Fulfilled 24 months of continuous active duty or the entire duration (at minimum 90 days) for which you were assigned active duty, and not dishonorably discharged, or
  • Completed a minimum of 90 days of active duty and been discharged under the authority of one of either 10 USC 1173 (Hardship), or 10 USC 1171 (Early Out), or have been verified to possess a compensable disability as a result of service, or
  • Been discharged with less than 90 days of service as a result of a disability from service-connected activity. Individuals may also qualify if released from active duty as a result of an obligatory diminution of force, particular medical conditions, or in some cases, at the government’s convenience.

VA Loan Eligibility for Service Personnel on Active Duty

Applicants on regular duty (active duty not for training) are VA loan eligible after serving a minimum of 181 days (90 days during the Gulf War) unless discharged or divided from a prior qualifying duration of active duty service.

Selected Reserves or National Guard Members Eligibility

For applicants not otherwise eligible for a VA loan, if you have completed a total of 6 years in either the Selected Reserves or the National Guard (provided you are a member of an active unit and attend required weekend drills and 2-week active duty for training), you are eligible for a VA Loan if you:

  • Were discharged honorably
  • Were consigned to the retired list
  • Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or a constituent of the Ready Reserve excluding the Selected Reserve after service regarded as honorable
  • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserves

For individuals who have finished less than 6 years of service, you may be eligible if discharged for a disability connected to service.

Un-remarried Surviving Spouses or Spouses of POW or MIA Serviceperson

Spouses who are eligible for VA loans are divided into two categories:

  • A spouse who has not remarried of a veteran who passed away during service or from a disability connected to service
  • A spouse of a serviceperson who is a prisoner of war or has been classified as missing in action

Additionally, spouses who remarry on or following the age of 57, and on or after December 16, 2003, may be eligible for VA home loan benefits. Unfortunately, the Department of Veteran Affairs must decline any applications from surviving spouses who remarried before December 16, 2003 that were received following December 15, 2004.

VA Loan Eligibility may also pertain to:

  • Specific United States citizens who have served in the military of a government allied with the US during WWII
  • Public Health Service officers, cadets of the United States Military, Air Force, Or Coast Guard Academy
  • Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy
  • Officers of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Merchant seaman with WWII Service

VA Restoration of Entitlement:

Previously used entitlement can be restored to purchase another home if:

  • The VA loan used prior to purchase property has been sold and the loan paid in full, or
  • A qualified Veteran-transferee (buyer) agrees to assume the VA loan and substitute his or her entitlement for the same amount of entitlement originally used by the Veteran seller. T
  • The veteran has repaid the prior VA loan in full, but has not disposed of the property purchased with the prior VA loan.

Remaining entitlement and restoration of entitlement can be requested through the VA Eligibility Center by completing VA Form 26-1880. When a new buyer assumes the loan they still have to qualify and provide proof of income and credit. 

VA Loan Requirement

In addition to VA eligibility, loans insured by the Department of Veteran Affairs also have requirements that pertain to credit, income, debt-to-income ratio, employment, and down payment. Borrowers who do not meet these specific requirements may not qualify for VA loan benefits, regardless of military eligibility.

For a comprehensive look at VA loan general requirements, visit our Lender411 VA Loan Requirements page.

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About The Author:
Liz Clinger
Liz Clinger has multiple years of experience in the mortgage and real estate industries as an internet marketing professional... more

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