VA Loan Eligibility for Surviving Spouses

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If a military member dies, their surviving spouse will have to apply for the death benefit VA loan eligibility, since it is not automatically added. Only the spouse may apply for eligibility, as children of the deceased military member are not permitted to use the veteran’s VA loan benefits. There are some stipulations the surviving spouse needs to be aware of in order to meet the VA eligibility requirements.

Eligibility for Surviving Spouses

After a military veteran dies, the death benefits their surviving spouse can receive include SGLI life insurance arrangements, full military burial honors, death pensions for war veterans, as well as any qualified VA home loan benefits.

VA guidelines state that in order for a surviving spouse to be eligible for a VA home mortgage loan, the military veteran must have died while they were on active duty, or from the disabilities that resulted from their service. When a veteran dies while on active duty, there is no additional verification necessary in order for the surviving spouse to be eligible for a VA mortgage loan. 

The disabilities received during service require a verification, which the veteran must have documented for their VA records. The veteran must have submitted a medical claim to the VA, and the VA must have reviewed the claim and assigned a percentage of disability based on a certified VA medical examination. The government will only recognize medical conditions from active duty if the claim has been investigated by the VA.


VA home mortgage loans for surviving spouses are only eligible if the spouse has not remarried. There is however a VA provision for a spouse who remarries on or after their 57th birthday, and after December 16, 2003 may be eligible for a VA home mortgage loan. 

Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan

An additional death benefit available for surviving spouses is the Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, or IRRRL. This is for a surviving spouse who had already obtained a VA mortgage loan with the military member, before the military member’s service-related death occurred. 

An IRRRL with the VA can be financed with all of the costs associated with processing the loan included in the financed amount. This helps prevent the surviving spouse from having to use their ready cash, since they may be having some trouble with their debt payments due to the death of the veteran.

Loan Application

The surviving spouse will have to apply for a VA mortgage loan the same as with any VA loan. They must provide the proof of the veteran’s death, or proof of the service-related disability if necessary, as well as any other paperwork or verifications required by the VA or the lending institution. 

The Certificate of Eligibility is known as VA form 26-1880. A surviving spouse may obtain this form by contacting the VA at the following address:

VA Loan Eligibility Center
PO Box 20729
Winston-Salem, NC 27120