Written by J. Wallace Jr. Â
Active duty service members, and those who are leaving active duty, should know what the VA requirements are for establishing VA loan eligibility. Your VA home loan benefit is not automatic--you must apply for eligibility once you have met the minimum required time in service.
Military members who are still on active duty should apply for their VA Certificate of Eligibility fully prepared with a letter from the commander or orderly room stating full details--the memberâ€™s name and other pertinent data, plus a notation that the borrower is a military member in good standing. The letter should include the service commitment and show how much time the borrower has left on his or her current enlistment. Specifically, the VA says of this letter:
â€œProof of service for veterans on active duty is a statement of service signed by, or by the direction of, the adjutant, personnel office, or commander of the unit or higher headquarters they are attached to. There is no one unique form used by the military for a statement of service. While statements of service are typically on military letterhead, some may be computer-generated.
The statement of service must clearly show:
â€¢ the veteranâ€™s full name,
â€¢ the Social Security Number (SSN) or the last 4 digits of SSN,Â
â€¢ the entry date on active duty,
â€¢ the duration of lost time, if any, and
â€¢ the name of the command providing the information.â€
The â€œtime left on enlistmentâ€ notation we mentioned earlier is important--any borrower who is applying for a VA loan within 12 months of leaving active duty is required to show that he or she is either re-enlisting or has civilian employment lined up for income, post-military. Borrowers who fall into a grey area with this issue should contact the VA for advice on how to proceed.
For those who have already left the military, VA loan eligibility rules require you to furnish a copy of DD Form 214, also known as the Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty. This, the VA official site says, will â€œgenerally contain all the information needed for VA to make an eligibility determination for persons who served in a regular component of the Armed Forces.â€
Do not send in originals--keep your original DD Form 214 and send in a â€œlegible copyâ€ as per the VA official site. Here is some additional information about the DD 214 as provided by VA.gov:
â€œPersons separated from military service after January 1, 1950, should have received DD Form 214. Persons separated after October 1, 1979, should furnish Member 4 copy of DD Form 214 that includes the character of service and the narrative reason for separation. Persons separated from active duty before January 1, 1950, received documentation other than DD Form 214. To be acceptable, it should indicate:
â€¢ length of service, andÂ
â€¢ character of service.