What Happens to the Surviving Spouse When a Veteran Dies?

Holding Hands

There are a lot of misconceptions about the VA Home Loan that need to be straightened out. One best example, many think that the Veteran Affairs originates and funds these home loans.The truth is, the VA only guarantees or ensures these loans. A private lender is the one providing the finances for the loan.

Another good example is the belief that a VA home loan eligibility can be transferred to the surviving spouse or co-borrower after the death of a veteran. This is not true. The VA loan eligibility is earned through the years of service a military member has rendered. It’s not something transferable to their children to other people. If a veteran dies, the VA will have to determine whether the surviving spouse is eligible for the benefit.

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Determining Eligibility

There are generally two factors that the VA will consider in determining eligibility: the nature of the veteran’s death and the marital status of the surviving spouse.

A few years back, the eligibility was limited to surviving spouses whose veterans died while on active duty or from a service-connected disability. Spouses of military service members who are missing in action or are prisoners of war were also considered eligible for the VA loan.

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Today, recent legislative changes have widened the scope and extended the benefit to spouses in certain circumstances:

  • Surviving spouse of veteran receiving compensation at the time of death for a ‘totally disabling’ service-connected disability,
  • Surviving spouse of a veteran who was continuously rated as ‘totally disabled’ for a minimum of 10 years before death,
  • Spouse of a veteran who was continuously rated as ‘totally disabled’ for a minimum of 5 years for the date of release from active duty or military discharge, and
  • The surviving spouse of an ex-prisoner of war veteran who died after September 30, 1990, and was continuously rated as ‘totally disabled’ for at least a year after death.

While not all spouses are eligible for the benefit, those whose veteran spouses have paid the ultimate price deserve to live in decent homes. If you have more questions or you wish to determine your eligibility, do not hesitate to speak with a VA representative.

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