Veteran and Military Benefits

Tue Oct 03 2023


VA Loan Overview The VA loan program allows eligible military service members, veterans, reservists, and certain surviving spouses to purchase a home with no down payment and no private mortgage insurance requirements. These loans are backed by the U.S

Post image

VA Loan Overview

The VA loan program allows eligible military service members, veterans, reservists, and certain surviving spouses to purchase a home with no down payment and no private mortgage insurance requirements. These loans are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, but issued by private lenders.

VA loans offer significant advantages compared to conventional mortgages. Most notably, borrowers can purchase a home with 0% down and no PMI. This saves thousands in upfront costs. VA loans also offer competitive interest rates and smaller closing costs. Due to the guaranty provided by the VA, lenders view these as low-risk loans. This allows borrowers with weaker credit to still qualify.

Veteran Disability Rating

A veteran disability rating is a rating the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assigns to disabilities related to a veteran’s military service. The rating can range from 0% to 100% in increments of 10%. A higher rating translates to more severe service-connected conditions.

This disability rating is crucial for VA loan eligibility and benefits. The percentage directly impacts qualification requirements and the funding fee. Veterans with a 100% permanent and total (P&T) disability rating receive the maximum benefits.

Special Provisions for Disabled Veterans

The VA offers special provisions for veterans with service-connected disabilities using the VA loan program. These advantages get better as the disability rating increases.

For veterans rated 100% disabled by the VA, the funding fee is waived. This saves 1.4% – 3.6% of the loan amount. These borrowers can also qualify with lower credit scores and income.

Additionally, 100% disabled veterans may receive grants and tax breaks. Veterans with lower disability ratings receive reductions in the VA funding fee based on their rating percentage. Overall, having a service-connected disability provides significant benefits and cost savings.

VA Loan Costs and Fees

Most mortgage loans require private mortgage insurance for low down payment loans. The VA funding fee acts as the equivalent to private mortgage insurance on VA loans. This fee is based on your down payment amount and disability rating.

For VA loans with 0% down, the fee is 2.3% of the loan amount for first time users. It drops to 1.65% for subsequent use. For 5% down, the fee is 1.65% first time and 1.4% after. Veterans rated 100% disabled pay no funding fee.

Beyond the VA fee, borrowers pay typical closing costs including appraisal, credit report, title insurance, etc. Closing costs for a VA loan often run between 2% – 5% of the loan amount. The VA allows sellers to pay closing costs.

Resources and Additional Benefits

The VA loan program provides the home financing benefit, but many other resources exist for disabled veterans. These include health care, disability compensation, caregiver support, insurance, and employment services.

Veterans with a disability rating of 50% or higher get increased compensation, medical benefits, and access to commissaries. Aid and attendance benefits provide financial support for in-home care. Many states and retailers offer tax breaks for disabled veterans.

The VA also has housing grants to adapt homes for accessibility. Resources are available to help veterans live independently and improve quality of life. Support groups and non-profits provide additional assistance.

Handling Credit and Competency Issues

Some disabled veterans have lower credit scores or competency challenges. The VA offers alternative options to help these borrowers obtain home financing.

For bad credit, the VA allows higher debt-to-income ratios and lower minimum credit scores versus conventional loans. Veterans with a VA disability rating can qualify with scores as low as 580. Also, the VA looks at overall credit patterns vs just the score.

If a veteran is deemed incompetent to handle financial affairs, the VA requires a fiduciary to oversee the loan process. As long as income/assets can be verified, the fiduciary can provide approval and manage finances. This allows access to the loan benefit.

Updates and Refunds

Veterans’ disability ratings are reviewed every few years and can change over time. Also, status may not be determined until after the loan closes. To account for this, the VA issues refunds and retroactive benefits.

If the disability rating increases after closing, veterans can request a refund of the difference in funding fee. The VA will review and process eligible refunds.

Likewise, if a veteran is classified as 100% disabled after closing, they can request retroactive waiver of the funding fee. Proper documentation must be provided in both cases to receive a refund.

Qualifications and Processes

To qualify for a VA home loan, applicants must meet length of service, discharge status, and VA eligibility requirements. While all veterans can utilize the program, disabled veterans receive enhancements.

Active duty members must complete at least 90 days of service. Veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable are eligible. Reservists and surviving spouses may also qualify in certain cases. Applicants must provide a Certificate of Eligibility and DD Form 214 discharge papers.

The mortgage process follows standard VA loan steps. Work with a lender to get pre-approved and shop for homes. Make an offer contingent on appraisal and financing. The lender handles documentation and underwriting. VA loans can close in as little as 2-4 weeks.

Housing and Tax Benefits

Owning a home provides financial benefits through equity and potential appreciation over time. Disabled veterans may qualify for additional property tax and other exemptions.

Many states offer full or partial property tax exemptions for 100% disabled veterans. This provides substantial savings each year. Improvements for disability accessibility may also be tax exempt. And profits from selling a primary residence avoid capital gains taxes up to $250k (single) or $500k (married).

Furthermore, the IRS allows tax deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes, and points paid on loans. Itemizing these deductions helps reduce taxable income. Consult a tax professional to maximize benefits.

Loan Accessibility and Credit Issues

VA loans provide more flexible qualification guidelines that benefit veterans with disabilities and credit challenges. Lenders mainly look at overall credit patterns vs just scores.

Veterans with a VA disability rating as low as 10% may qualify with credit scores around 580. Higher debt-to-income ratios are allowed as well. Options like VA Streamline Refinances let those with existing VA loans refinance easily.

Also, VA loans never require a down payment. This expands access for veterans short on savings but able to afford the monthly payments. Caregiver income can help disabled veterans qualify too. Overall, VA loans are accessible even with financial difficulties.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does disability income count for VA loan qualification?

Yes, VA disability compensation and Social Security disability income both count towards qualifying income for the VA loan program. Gross income is used.

Will getting a VA home loan reduce my disability rating?

No. Your VA disability rating is separate from home loan eligibility. The loan program does not impact compensation amounts or affect your disability status in any way.

What is the 10 year rule for VA disability rating reductions?

Veterans who have had the same disability rating for 10+ years are protected from reductions, absent fraud. The rating is permanent going forward as long as the condition remains.

What is the VA rule of 55?

This allows veterans 55 and older who experience a decrease in earning capacity to receive an earlier effective date for benefits. It helps those nearing retirement manage the financial impact.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

The VA home loan program provides an invaluable benefit to help veterans and surviving spouses purchase homes with favorable terms and zero down payment requirements. Those with service-connected disabilities receive enhancements like waived fees, lower rates, and relaxed guidelines. This saves meaningful money over the life of the loan.

Veterans rated 100% disabled gain the most advantages. But even a 10% rating can open doors for those who may not otherwise qualify for financing. Given the benefits, disabled veterans of any age or financial situation should consider utilizing VA loans to buy a home. Consult with a VA lender to review options and start the process today.

profile icon of allveteran

About the Author


Latest posts from All Veteran

Read the latest from our blog. Discover new benefits and stay up to date on the Veteran community.

Your Veteran Benefits Are Waiting

You're one step away from an expert collection of veteran benefits resources.

Get Started