In order to provide support and resources to our military members, Congress has enacted a number of beneficial programs. The VA home loan has a number of advantages for our active-duty military members, veterans and their surviving spouses, including the ability to buy a home without a down payment and the chance to avoid mortgage insurance. In order to take advantage of these benefits, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper documentation showing your eligibility.
VA Certificate of Eligibility
The first and best way to get a VA loan is to use your certificate of eligibility. Eligible individuals can access this through the VA’s eBenefits site and provide it to their lender. Anyone who has a certificate of eligibility qualifies for the VA loan, so once you have this, it’s a golden ticket.
Here’s where things get a little complicated: Not every eligible service member or veteran has one in their possession already. Some clients, particularly members of the National Guard or reserves, may have to have a certificate generated for them through the VA. In this case, the VA requires some different documentation to prove your service time.
Service members get a DD214 form that contains information about your active-duty service time including personal information, your last duty station, how long you were active duty and whether you served overseas. It also states the character of your service and reason for your separation from the military.
Depending on the timeframe in which you served, Congress has set different thresholds for the length of active-duty service before you’re eligible for a home loan. These may not apply if you have a service-related disability or for certain other reasons that would have prevented you from completing your service.
You get a new DD214 each time you complete 90 days of active-duty service.
Which DD214s Are Accepted?
The first thing to know is that the DD214 must contain the separation information in a box at the bottom of the newer DD214s. If you were separated after 1980, the Member 1 copy has this information. If you were separated before 1980, you may need a newer, undeleted DD214.
You won’t be able to use training DD214s because Congress requires that your service time be active-duty for home loan eligibility. The word “training” often won’t appear on the document. Instead certain abbreviations like “ADT” and “ACTDUTRA” signify a training DD214.
Finally, the copy must be legible and free of handwritten changes.
Getting a Copy of Your DD214
If you’ve misplaced your DD214, there are a couple of ways you can replace it.
If you’re lucky and you filed a copy of your DD214 with your local VA office, they should have it on file.
If you didn’t file it, you can order the documents from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis by completing this form. There are researchers working with the center who will try to expedite your records request for a fee. If you were recently discharged, you may also be able to get the records from the document custodian for your branch of service.
If you find yourself having trouble, we’re happy to help you order your documents and get going in the right direction.
If you have your documents, you can get started with your loan application or call (888) 728-4702. If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to answer them in the comments.
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