The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act extends home loan benefits to more surviving spouses. Even if your spouse died from a nonmilitary-related cause, you may be eligible for a home loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Who Qualifies

Providing you haven't remarried, you may be eligible for a VA home loan if you are the surviving spouse of a military member who:

  1. Died in service,
  2. Died from a service-related injury,
  3. Was missing in action or a prisoner of war for at least 90 days,
  4. Or was totally disabled and eligible for disability benefits for either military- or nonmilitary-related causes at the time of death.

Disability Due to Military- or Nonmilitary-Related Causes

The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, which was enacted in August 2012, allows surviving spouses of military members to apply for a VA home loan if the deceased veteran was continuously and completely disabled for a minimum of 5 years from the date of military discharge or 10 years immediately preceding his or her death.

It doesn't matter whether the deceased veteran's disability was service-connected or not. You also may be eligible for VA home loan benefits if your deceased spouse had been a prisoner of war (POW) and was continuously and completely disabled for at least 1 year before he or she died. For you to qualify for a VA home loan, your spouse who had been a POW must have died after September 30, 1999.

Advantages VA Mortgage Loans Offer to Surviving Spouses

There are many benefits surviving spouses have to applying for a VA home loan, such as the following:

  • Less stringent credit requirements
  • Low interest rates – rates vary depending on the lender
  • Loans up to $417,000 – loan limits vary by county; therefore, certain counties in some states have increased maximum guaranty limits
  • Zero down payment loans
  • No monthly mortgage insurance premiums – even with a zero down payment
  • No penalty for paying off the loan early

Although VA home loan programs normally require borrowers to pay a funding fee (a percentage of the loan amount) at closing, surviving spouses who are eligible for a home loan are exempt from paying the fee.

Mortgage Refinance Loans

In addition to mortgage loans to purchase a home, surviving spouses also can qualify for refinance loans, in which case you can borrow up to 100 percent of your home's appraised value. Streamline refinancing is available even if you don't meet the all the criteria for a full VA home loan guaranty benefit.

For more information about VA home loans, talk with a home loan company in your area, such as Texas Veterans Home Loans.