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VA home loan programs for surviving spouses

To get a VA-backed home loan as the surviving spouse of a Veteran, you’ll need a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to show your lender that you qualify for this benefit. Find out if you can get a COE. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to meet your lender’s credit and income requirements to get a loan.

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Can I get a COE?

You may be able to get a COE if you’re the spouse of a Veteran, and at least one of these descriptions is true for them.

At least one of these must be true:

  • The Veteran is missing in action, or
  • The Veteran is a prisoner of war (POW), or
  • The Veteran died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry, or
  • The Veteran died while in service or from a service-connected disability and you didn’t remarry before you were 57 years old or before December 16, 2003, or
  • The Veteran had been totally disabled and then died, but their disability may not have been the cause of death (in certain situations)

Note: A surviving spouse who remarried before December 16, 2003, and on or after their 57th birthday, must have applied no later than December 15, 2004, to establish home loan eligibility. We’ll have to deny applications we received after December 15, 2004, from surviving spouses who remarried before December 16, 2003.

How do I apply for a COE?

This depends on whether or not you’re receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC).

If you’re receiving DIC benefits

You’ll need to fill out a Request for Determination of Loan Guaranty Eligibility—Unmarried Surviving Spouses (VA Form 26-1817).
Get VA Form 26-1817 to download

You’ll also need the Veteran’s DD214 (or other separation papers) if available.
Get military service records online

Submit the form and discharge or separation papers to:

If you’re not receiving DIC benefits

You’ll first need to fill out an Application for DIC, Survivors Pension and/or Accrued Benefits (VA Form 21P-534EZ).
Get VA Form 21P-534EZ to download

You’ll also need:

  • The Veteran’s DD214 (or other separation papers) if available, and
  • A copy of your marriage license, and
  • The Veteran’s death certificate

Get military service records online

Submit the form and documents to the VA pension management center that serves your state.
Find a VA pension management center

Next steps for getting a VA-backed home loan

Applying for your COE is only one part of the process for getting a VA-backed home loan. Your next steps will depend on the type of loan you’re looking to get—and on the private bank or mortgage company that’s serving as your lender.

The lender will request a VA appraisal (assessment) of the house. An appraisal estimates the house’s market value at the time of inspection. An appraisal isn't a home inspection or a guaranty of value. 

The lender reviews the appraisal, your credit information, and your income, then decides if they should accept your loan application.

If they decide to accept your application, the lender will work with you to select a title company (or other entity) to close (transfer ownership) on the house.