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military coupleThere is no question that the VA loan program is an excellent benefit to veterans and service members looking to buy a home or refinance their existing one. It enables them to buy a home with no down payment, much lower interest rates and no mortgage insurance.

However, many service members have questions about including their civilian spouses in the process of getting their VA loan. Here are the top three things that all spouses – and service members – should know about VA loan benefits.

Qualifying Income
More often than not, you’ll find that with most military couples, one partner is a service member while the other is a civilian. Sometimes, these couples assume that the civilian’s income or financial standing could be a problem or not count toward qualifying for a VA loan. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the civilian spouse’s income could actually help! If the civilian’s income is substantial, it could potentially help the service member qualify for a larger loan.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows spouses to cosign for loans. In this case, you could use the civilian spouse’s income with the military spouse’s eligibility for the VA loan. However, it’s important to remember that the VA loan is no different from any other loan when it comes to your debt-to-income ratio and credit history. If your civilian spouse makes more but has a poor credit rating, that could hurt your chances of qualifying for a loan, regardless of your military standing.

Surviving Spouse Eligibility

Prior to the signing of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act in 2012, only spouses of those who had died of military-related causes were allowed to apply for VA loan benefits. Today, those benefits have been extended for surviving spouses.

These kinds of surviving spouses can apply for a VA loan:

  • A non-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran or service member who died in service or from a service-related disability
  • A spouse of a service member who was missing in action or a prisoner of war for last least 90 days
  • A surviving spouse of a veteran who was rated totally disabled and was eligible for disability compensation at the time of death from any cause


This is possibly the most complex issue when it comes to civilian spouses and VA loans. If you are an ex-spouse of a service member, you are not eligible for a new VA loan in the same way a surviving spouse would be. That’s pretty straightforward.

It can get complicated when divorce is involved after you have a VA loan together. The VA has very strict occupancy requirements on who can and cannot live in a home purchased using a VA loan. However, if the civilian spouse is a cosigner, they are eligible to remain in the home without the service member living there. The issue arises when it comes to entitlement. The service member cannot restore their entitlement unless their ex-spouse refinances and/or pays off the VA loan in full.

It’s important to keep in mind, whether you’re a current spouse, surviving spouse or ex-spouse, that every situation is different and complex. Be sure to talk to a Home Loan Expert who specializes in VA loans so they can walk you through your unique situation.

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This Post Has 149 Comments

  1. Hello,
    My mom was a vet. She and my father got a VA loan for a house in Ohio through Quicken.
    Both of their names are on the loan.
    She passed away and he is still living.
    Does he automatically keep the same loan with the same terms or would he have to get a new loan?

    1. Hi Mic:

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. Your father can keep the loan. I will recommend that he gives us a call at (800) 508-0944 so we can go ahead and get the documentation in his name, but because the loan was taken out when she was alive and they were married, no refinance should have to take place. Thanks for reaching out and our condolences are with your family.

  2. My mother and father were divorced years ago after he retired from the military and she was given full entitlement to his sbp and ssi due to her being disabled at time of divorce. He did have a rating for disability. He remarried but she did not. He passed away years ago. My question is would my mother be able to qualify for his va loan entitlement as she would like to purchase a home and is on a limited income?

    1. Hi Maria:

      Unfortunately, payments from a survivor benefit plan don’t extend to eligibility for a home loan. However, we can help her look into other options if she gives us a call at (888) 980-6716. Thanks for reaching out!

  3. Thanks for all your help with this complicated matter. This is my situation. My former VET spouse and I were on a VA loan from USAA. I have signed the deed over to him and he is keeping the home the VA loan is related to. It has been a year since our agreement and several attempts at meeting his requirements to honor the deed transfer finally led to the deed now in his name of a home in Hermosa Beach CA in September. Because of the high mortgage and my being on loan still after months my credit is crippled. I simply want to be released from this VA loan. How can I do it? He keeps telling me that the VA is dragging its feet and just yesterday the answer again was, still dealing with VA and then have to deal with USAA. Meanwhile my debt which I cannot consolidate is out of hand. What can I do?

    1. Hi Maria:

      You probably have to wait until he gets you off the loan by refinancing, and there may not be a whole lot that you can you. With that said, I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts to go over your situation at (888) 980-6716. I wish you luck!

  4. I am a unmarried surviving widow of a veteran who died with a service connected connected disability (CLL) due to agent orange. I would like to purchase a home but not sure I would have qualifying income. My only income is social security benefits and D.I.C. However I have a daughter willing to help me with any VA Home loan should I qualify. Is this possible? I bought and paid for in full a mobile home 6 years ago but lot rent is getting out of hand..a small home might be a cheaper option.

    1. Hi R:

      Unfortunately, because the person signing onto the loan is your daughter and not a spouse, it would be considered a VA joint loan. We don’t do these except in special circumstances that don’t apply in this case. However, other lenders may offer this option. I wish you the best of luck. Thanks for reaching out!

  5. My veteran husband passed away a few months ago.He had a 50% disability.He alone was on the VA loan and title.I have continued to make the house payments faithfully.Can I take on his loan this way or will lender demand I refi? I am low income with credit score of 632 and may not qualify for a loan.Please help.

    1. Hi Rhonda:

      I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s passing. I hope to help put your mind at ease about a couple of things here.

      You can continue to make payments this way. There’s nothing that demands you refi. If you were to want to refi down the line to change your term, lower your rate or take cash out, you would have to qualify at that point. Although this isn’t the only thing lenders look at, Quicken Loans requires a median credit score of 620 or higher for a conventional or VA loan, so your current score doesn’t preclude that option. You mentioned your husband’s disability. If his passing was related to complications of his service-connected disability, you might be able to qualify for another VA loan as a surviving spouse. You would need enough income to be able to make the payments, but that’s something that any lender will be able to look at fairly and walk you through to go over your options. If you would like, I would recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts about your situation so they can lay out different scenarios and see what’s best for you at (888) 980-6716. But you don’t have to refi. I hope this helps!

    2. Thanks for your reply.My husbands death was not related to service.A lawyer said I was safe to pay off HIS credit card debt.Well Huntington Bank listed me as the primary and the credit bureaus dropped my score from 735 to 630.They retracted it but now I have to wait forit to be restored.I wouldnt qualify to refi I feel.I am concerned about the home insurance is in his name.If theres an incident will they honor the ins coverage.Huntington wants me to go thru probate and put house in my name.I live on $1000 a month and would I even qualify for a refi I dont know.Im so beat down at this point I dont care and just want to live in my home till they throw me out.The more I discuss it with them the nastier they get.

  6. Hello – my wife is a veteran. I never served. Can she apply for a VA loan. Will I ruin her application with my high debt or can she apply with her credit only? We want to get $0 down or as close to $0 down as possible.

    1. Hi Ed,
      As long as your wife meets eligibility requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs, she’ll be able to apply for a VA loan. You can learn more about those requirements here. As for whether she’ll be able to apply for a mortgage without you, that really depends on what state you live in (you can read more about that here). If you’d like to speak to one of our Home Loan Experts, who can give you more personalized information based on your unique situation, you can call (888) 980-6716. I hope this helps!

  7. Husband died. Left home to kids I living rights. Va loan can they quick claim it back to me. They have there own homes

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your husband. Yes, your kids will be able to quitclaim the property to you. I hope this helps!

  8. Hi I would like to buy a house on my own, my income and credit score will qualify me for a FHA Loan but my wife is a veteran and she has used a VA loan to buy a house in her name before we met. I would like to buy another house in my name can I use VA Loan assistance ?

    1. Hi Charles:

      Unfortunately, the only way to use the VA loan is if she’s on the loan with you. I will tell you that she can use her benefits again as long as the previous VA loan has been paid off. If you want to qualify for a home on your own, you can look into other options that may be available to you through Rocket Mortgage or by giving one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. I hope this helps! Have a good night!

  9. As a veteran I previously used a VA loan and VA refinance on a home. My spouse then refinanced the home solely in her name with an FHA loan (with Quicken). Does that spouse-only FHA refinance allow me to restore my VA eligibility generally? And specifically, we are considering options such as a cash-out refinance to cover the cost of building a detached garage apartment on the property. Since the main house is still the one originally purchased with a VA loan and VA refinanced, would any VA loan entitlement restoration be ineligible if it was for the same property?
    Thank you

    1. The loan was paid off in full, your VA entitlement can be restored. It’s important to note this can only be done once, but I recommend speaking with a Home Loan Expert at (888) 980-6716 to go over your options. Have a wonderful night!

  10. I am a veteran and am separated from my wife. Can she get a VA loan without me on the mortgage/title if I agree to it? I would like to allow her to buy a house for her and my son.

    1. Hi Paul:

      Unfortunately, the only way for her to get a VA loan is for you to be on the loan with her because the entitlement is tied to you as the veteran. One possible option might be for you to buy the house and have her assume the loan later on which is permissible as long as the lender and servicer agree to it and there’s a bit of an approval process. However, the downside to this is that you as the veteran would never be able to get a VA loan again. I wish I could give you better news.

  11. Hello, would my mother qualify for and VA programs as a widow, she has never remarried. My father was in the Navy. He did not die while he was in service.

    1. Hi Christina:

      Unfortunately, to qualify for VA benefits as a widow, your mother must be a surviving spouse of someone who either died in service or as a result of a service-connected disability. The VA has very strict rules. However, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t qualify for other loan options. She did speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news, but I hope this helps.

  12. Hi ,
    I am divorced to my wife and quit claim on my house in favor of her. My name is still in
    the mortgage . Can I remove my name from the mortgage if I want to? I have a va loan and
    my ex is not a veteran.

    1. Hi Eli:

      She would have to refi out of a VA loan. You could work with your divorce attorney to try to come up with a mutually agreeable deadline. That would be my recommendation.

  13. Divorced Civilian. Name not on the va loan. Quitdeed to me. Is the soldier, whose name is on the loan, able to take out any loans/equity against the property?

    1. Hi Momma:

      You can, but if he doesn’t allow you to assume the loan, you may have to refinance into something that’s not a VA loan. Either way, we can help talk you through all your options if you give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. Hope this helps!

  14. My husband is a Veteran and currently unemployed. Would we be able to qualify for a VA loan based on my income even though I didn’t serve?

    1. Hi April:

      We thank you and your husband for your service. While he has to be on the loan as the veteran, you can be on the loan as well and use your income to qualify. I hope this helps! If you want to get started online, you can do so through Rocket Mortgage® or give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. Thank you for reaching out and have a great day!

  15. I have an issue where I am trying to refinance my ex-husband off of the house. He signed a quitclaim and it has been recorded with the state. Our separation agreement states that upon Sale of the house, I (ex) provides half of monies made UP TO $25,000 (upon sale). I have given him back $19,200 from alimony over the last 3 years, I NOT Selling..I am just refinancing to get him off of the mortgage, and I have provided all documentation required (Divorce Decree, Separation Agreement, etc, bank statements showing I gave him money back – charging him less for alimony). The VA Underwriters are not accepting the Quitclaim. The Quitclaim has been filed/recorded as well. So I had my ex sent the Loan Office an email telling them that I am selling, not refinancing. He asked that they treat it as such. And if I were selling I would only owe him $5800. My attorney wrote to them stating that the separation agreements states on in “Sale” would that happen. They are now asking that my ex have the email printed, notarized, sent to me to sign and notarize, and only then will they accept my Refi.

    By law the signed/notarized/recorded quitclaim should be all that is required, but they are continuing to abuse their position, act as if they are attorneys, and make me feel like a criminal. The Title company’s lawyer has me sign the Quitclaim and filed it saying that these WF Underwriters are acting as if they are attorneys. So he and my divorce attorney are both in disbelief that they are doing this.

    I could go with a different bank and I am sure it would go swimmingly (all paperwork is done to include Quitclaim). However, now I am staying based on principal. They already have a $25,000 check cut for my ex without even speaking with me. It feels like I have a bias (scorned) underwriter assigned my loan. I definitely am keeping the paper trail on this, but would like for this to be corrected/rectified. I honestly never want to go VA again thanks to this experience. My ex is printing/notarizing/and sending me the email just in case, but I told him he shouldn’t have to. His email, and Quitclaim should be all they need. I feel like I am back in divorce court.

    How to I get these people removed from being able to be Veteran Affairs (VA) Underwriters? This is illegal and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Rhiannon:

      I see that you’re working with us. I’m going to get this over to our client relations team to look into what’s going on here and see if we can move you forward. Thanks for reaching out!

  16. My husband died August 21 1918, he wA Veteran of Korea, his death was not service related, he had paid off several VA loans in the past.

    1. Good afternoon, Joyce:

      Unfortunately, the VA defines surviving spouse as being married to someone who passed away in the line of duty or after having sustained a service-connected disability. While you wouldn’t be able to get another VA loan, there may be other loan options that make sense for you depending on your goals. I recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Thanks for reaching out!

  17. My estranged wife and I divorced and I was ordered by a Virginia judge (I didn’t know they could order me out of my home) to move out by a certain date and she would have a year to refinance. I moved out but 3 years later she has not refinanced and I don’t see it written on any of the court documents ordering her to. What can I do? Also she isn’t living in the house anymore she is renting it to her relatives.

    1. Hi B.Lee:

      This sounds more like a legal matter than a mortgage matter, so your best route would be to speak with your lawyer to see what your options are with the home. You might need to obtain a copy of your marital settlement agreement as well as a property settlement agreement to determine what can be done. I hesitate to provide any further information because I’m not a lawyer and cannot speak to your specific situation. I hope this helps, though!

  18. Can I apply as single on Va Loan if my Spouse and I are separated and dont speak and add her to the deed later if I want to sale the home

    1. Hi James:

      Title requirements vary based on the state you are in. She also may have to sign your mortgage documents as long as you’re married. That said, she may be able to sign something giving up her marital rights to any property you buy. It all depends on state requirements. If you in the process of divorce or separated, but it’s not yet finalized, you would still be married for the purposes of mortgage application. I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716 to go over the details of your situation.

  19. I am separated from my husband and my income alone qualifies me for a VA loan but my husband will not sign a waiver of homestead, can I purchase a home an quick claim it to my brother and still live in the home would this be legal?

    1. Hi Antoinette Marie:

      Thank you for your service! I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Questions of title and mortgage rights are heavily dependent on what state you’re in, and I want to make sure you get the right information. Thanks for reaching out and have a great night!

  20. Help🤔my wife n I had a va loan together; both of our names are on the deed(‘we both are veterans:we divorced, n I quitclaim the house to her; yet the va still holds me responsible;’what can I do please please

    1. You would still have to have her refinance in order to get your name off the loan. Typically in the divorce, you would both negotiate that she has a certain amount of time to get that done. That’s the best I can tell you. Thank you for your service!

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