Learn VA Loan Requirements for Surviving Spouse

What a surviving spouse needs to know.
Veteran spouse with daughterCan the spouse of a veteran obtain a VA loan for a house? The answer is maybe. There are strict requirements for a spousal home loan. The certificate of eligibility defines whether the spouse of a Veteran is eligible for a VA loan. The certificate of eligibility may be obtained directly through the Veteran's Administration or the COE, as it's known, can be requested by the lender.

Here are the requirements for a spousal VA loan. At least one of the following must be true:

  • The Veteran has been declared missing in action, or
  • The Veteran is a prisoner of war, or
  • The Veteran died while serving in the military or as a result of a service-connected disability, and you did not remarry before reaching the age of 57 or prior to December 16, 2003, or
  • The Veteran was fully incapacitated and later died, although it is possible that their impairment was not the cause of death (in certain situations)
  • If the Veteran died while serving in the military or as a result of a service-connected condition, and you did not remarry,

Note: A surviving spouse who remarried prior to December 16, 2003, and on or after their 57th birthday, must have applied for home loan eligibility no later than December 15, 2004. The Veteran's Administration will refuse applications for a certificate of eligibility submitted after December 15, 2004, by surviving spouses who remarried prior to December 16, 2003.

The Veterans' Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act, however, marginally increased the aforementioned standards. Following the passing of this legislation, surviving spouses who remarried may continue to utilize the VA Loan as long as they meet the following requirements:

  • You remarried, but have since been divorced from your new husband.
  • Remarried, however, the marriage was terminated owing to the new spouse's death.

How Do I Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility?

The COE application depends on whether the spouse is receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or not. The following forms should be completed and provided to the lender.

If you’re receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits

Nice kitchenComplete a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility—Surviving Spouses Who Are Not Married (Download VA Form 26-1817 (PDF)). Additionally, you will need the veteran's DD214 (Get military service records online) or other separation documents. Submit the VA form and discharge/separation paperwork to your lender or to the state-based VA regional loan office. Find a VA regional loan center.

If you’re not receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits

Complete an Application for Disability Insurance Compensation, Survivors Pension, and/or Accrued Benefits (Download VA Form 21P-534EZ (PDF)). Additionally, you will need a copy of the veteran's DD214 (Get military service records online) or other separation documents, as well as a copy of your marriage license and the veteran's death certificate. Submit the VA form and any other required documentation to the state-based VA pension management center. Find a VA regional loan center.

How Is “Spouse” Defined by the VA?

As is the case with any government program, precise definitions are critical in evaluating eligibility for a VA Home Loan. Since such, it is critical to establish the precise definition of a spouse used by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as this definition is vital for determining who qualifies as a surviving spouse.

The Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges a spouse if the “marriage was recognized by the law of the jurisdiction in which at least one of the parties lived at the time of the marriage.” For instance, if either the service member or his or her spouse resided in New York at the time of their marriage and the state of New York recognizes the marriage, the VA would as well.

Additionally, the “VA now accepts all same-sex marriages, regardless of the Veteran's current or former place of residence.” This is a critical provision since it provides eligibility for VA benefits to same-sex spouses regardless of state of residence.

Can a Child of a Deceased Veteran Get a VA Loan?

Surviving Children and dependents are not eligible for a VA home loan.

Rotating question markFAQs About Surviving Spouse Requirements for a VA Loan

Q. Are surviving spouses exempt from the VA funding fee?

A. According to the VA, a surviving spouse may be excluded from paying the VA funding fee if the surviving spouse of a veteran who died while on active duty or as a consequence of a service-related disease or disability.

Q. Can a surviving spouse get a VA Interest rate reduction loan?

A. A surviving spouse, who obtained a VA loan with the veteran before his or her death (regardless of the reason of death), may obtain a VA guaranteed interest rate reduction refinancing loan. Also called a VA IRRRL for short.

Q. Can a surviving spouse obtain a VA mortgage if he or she remarries?

A. Couples who remarried after age 57 on or after December 16, 2003 may use the VA loan eligibility of a deceased spouse to purchase a home with no down payment, precisely as the veteran would have.

Remarried couples who fulfill the prior conditions are not required to pay the VA funding fee. As a consequence, their loan amount and monthly payment will be smaller.

Q. How much are Survivor benefits from VA?

A. Survivor benefits from the VA can vary depending on the situation, but they typically range from $1,200 to $3,000 per month.

Q. How the VA house loan benefit extends to spouses.

A. The VA home loan benefit extends to the veteran's spouse of qualified service members and veterans. This benefit can help them get into a house of their own, or refinance an existing home loan. The spouse must be married to the service member or veteran at the time of application, and must meet other eligibility requirements.

Q. How to Apply for Survivor's Pension

A. The first step in applying for a survivors pension is to contact the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and request an application. The VBA will provide the survivor with the necessary forms and instructions for completing the application.

The survivor will need to gather supporting documentation, such as the veteran's DD-214 form, marriage certificate, and death certificate. Once the application is complete, it can be submitted online, by mail, or in person at a VBA regional office.

Q. Where to Find Help Applying for VA Benefits?

If you are a veteran and need help applying for VA benefits, you can visit your local VA office or go to the Veterans Affairs website. You can also find helpful information and resources at the Veterans Benefits Administration website.

Read more about VA loans on the questions and answer page


In conclusion, the VA loan program provides a valuable opportunity for surviving spouses. There are some specific requirements that must be met in order to qualify, so it is important to understand the process and what is required. With the help of a knowledgeable real estate agent, it is possible to navigate the system and get the home you deserve.

SOURCE: VA Home Loan Programs for Surviving Spouses

Recommended Reading

  1. VA Loan Gift Funds: How to Use Them to Close on a VA Loan
  2. VA Home Loan: See if You Meet the Income Requirements
  3. VA Loan Amount: What's the Maximum You Can Borrow?