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M21-1, Part IX, Subpart i, Chapter 5, Section A – General Information on Loan Guaranty Benefits


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic Name


1.  Eligibility for Loan Guaranty Benefits


This topic contains information on the eligibility requirements for loan guaranty benefits, including information on

Change Date

May 22, 2015

IX.i.5.A.1.a.  General Veteran Eligibility Requirements

Generally, a Veteran is eligible for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan benefits if he/she served on active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard after
September 15, 1940, and was discharged under conditions other than
dishonorable after
  • at least 90 continuous days of service, any part of which occurred during wartime, or
  • at least 181 continuous days of service during peacetime.
Two years of service is required for Veterans who
  • enlisted (and began service) after September 7, 1980, or
  • entered service as an officer after October 16, 1981.
Exception:  Veterans with less than two years of service are eligible if they complete the full period of active duty to which they were called or ordered.  This period of service must still be at least
  • 90 days (if any part is during wartime), or
  • 181 days (if during peacetime).
Note:  Cases involving an other-than-honorable (OTH) discharge will usually require further development by VA.
References:  For more information on

IX.i.5.A.1.b.  Eligibility for Service Members

Service members currently serving on active duty are eligible after serving at least 90 continuous days (181 during peacetime).  Certificates issued to active members are only valid while the member is on active duty.  Upon discharge the individual will need to reapply.

IX.i.5.A.1.c.  Eligibility for Members of the Reserve and National Guard

Members of the Reserve and National Guard who are not otherwise eligible for loan guaranty benefits, are eligible upon completion of six years of service in the Reserve or Guard (unless released earlier due to a service-connected (SC) disability).  The applicant must have received an honorable discharge for VA purposes from such service unless he/she is either:
  • in an inactive status awaiting final discharge, or
  • still serving in the Reserve or Guard.

IX.i.5.A.1.d.  Eligibility for a Veteran’s Spouse

Some spouses of Veterans may have home loan eligibility.  They include:
  • the unremarried surviving spouse of a Veteran who died as a result of service or SC causes
  • the remarried surviving spouse of a Veteran who died on active duty or from SC causes, provided the surviving spouse remarried on or after
    • age 57, and
    • December 16, 2003, or
  • the spouse of an active duty service member who is listed as missing in action (MIA) or a former prisoner of war (FPOW) for at least 90 days.  Eligibility under this MIA/FPOW provision is limited to one-time use only.
Effective August 6, 2012, surviving spouses also have home loan eligibility, perPublic Law 112-154, if a Veteran died from non-service-connected causes but was
  • continuously rated totally disabled for a period of 10 years or more immediately preceding death, or
  • was rated totally disabled for a period of not less than five years from the date of discharge or release from active duty, or
  • was an FPOW who died after September 30, 1999, and was continuously rated totally disabled for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding death.
Additionally, the surviving spouse must
  • meet the definition of “surviving spouse,” as stated in  38 CFR 3.50(b)
  • meet the requirements of 38 CFR 3.55, and
  • not be eligible as a Veteran in his or her own right.
Note:  If the Veteran had a prior qualifying period of active duty, then died due to disability(ies) incurred or aggravated during a subsequent period of active duty for training, or inactive duty training, the service requirements for loan guaranty benefits are considered met, per Op. G.C. 1-67

IX.i.5.A.1.e.  COE

A Certificate of Eligibility (COE) verifies to the lender that the Veteran or claimant is eligible for a VA-guaranteed loan.
Generally, Veterans should try to obtain a COE online through eBenefits.
  • If the COE cannot be obtained via eBenefits, lenders can often obtain the COE using the Automated Certificate of Eligibility system in WebLGY.
  • If a COE cannot be obtained either via eBenefits or the lender, further processing can be done by the Regional Loan Centers (RLC).

2.  Loan Guaranty Service Responsibilities


This topic contains information on the responsibilities of the Loan Guaranty Service, including information on

Change Date

May 22, 2015

IX.i.5.A.2.a.  Requesting a COE

The RLCs are responsible for processing both paper and electronic COE applications.
The addresses and telephone numbers of the RLCs may be found in the Veterans Information Portal.

IX.i.5.A.2.b.  Initial Actions Upon Receipt of an Application

There are two basic loan guaranty applications
After receiving a paper application or a request for a COE through eBenefits, the RLC may request a statement concerning the claimant’s basic eligibility from the
  • Veterans Service Center (VSC) that has jurisdiction over the claims folder, or
  • pension management center (PMC) that has jurisdiction over the survivors’ claim.
Refer to the table below to determine the location responsible for issuing the eligibility determination to the RLC.
If the corporate record shows the claims folder location as …
Then the …
any regional office (RO)
  • VSC in the RO listed in the corporate record is responsible for issuing the eligibility determination to the RLC when the claimant is a Veteran, and
  • PMC with jurisdiction over the claimant’s address is responsible for issuing the eligibility determination to the RLC when the claimant is a surviving spouse.
Note:  For more information on PMC jurisdiction, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iv, 1.2.b.
  • the Records Management Center (Station 376)
  • the Federal records center, or
  • NFE (No Folder Exists)
VSC or PMC with geographical jurisdiction over the Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s address is responsible for issuing the eligibility determination to the RLC.
Note:  For Veterans, the VSC must resolve any COD issues and determine if the discharge was due to an SC disability.

IX.i.5.A.2.c.  What the Request for a Determination of Eligibility Must Include

The request for a determination of eligibility must include the
  • name and address of the person making the application for a COE, and
  • Veteran’s full name and claims folder number.
Note:  If the deceased Veteran’s claims folder number is unknown, the request must include the Veteran’s
  • Social Security number
  • branch of service, and
  • date(s) of
    • enlistment and discharge, or
    • death and service number.

IX.i.5.A.2.d.  Notification Responsibility

The RLC informs the claimant of the outcome of the eligibility determination.
References:  For information on handling a

3.  VSC and PMC Responsibilities for Eligibility Determinations


This topic contains information on the responsibilities of the VSC or PMC including information on

Change Date

March 11, 2019

IX.i.5.A.3.a.  Eligibility Determinations for Veterans

The VSC in the RO having custody of the claims folder makes the following determinations regarding Veteran claimants, as requested by RLCs:
  • a COD determination, if the Veteran’s discharge was not specifically under honorable conditions or was dishonorable, or
  • a determination of discharge for disability, subject to presumption of incurrence or aggravation, as required under 38 CFR 3.315(b).
References:  For more information on

IX.i.5.A.3.b.  Eligibility Determinations for Surviving Spouses

The PMC of jurisdiction makes the necessary determinations upon request by the RLC, in response to a surviving spouse’s application, if
  • a determination as to SC death and relationship was not previously made, and
  • no legal bar is shown.

IX.i.5.A.3.c.  Development for Certification Purposes

Use the table below to determine what action to take to develop a case for certification purposes.
If …
Then …
an issue has not been disposed of in a prior rating
a rating decision is required.
Reference:  For more information on rating decisions for loan guaranty benefits, see
  • a formal claim for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) or death compensation was not filed, or
  • a rating decision as to SC death has not been made
refer the claim to the rating activity for a determination as to service connection for the cause of death for the purpose of loan guaranty benefits eligibility.
Note:  If loan guaranty certification cannot be issued because of a legal bar, do not refer the case for an SC death rating, as the issue is immaterial.
ask the claimant to furnish evidence to establish
  • the date and place of marriage to the Veteran, and
  • the date, place, and manner of dissolution of prior marriages of either party, if any.
the only information required is to establish that the surviving spouse
Reference:  For additional information on a surviving spouse who remarries after age 57, see M21-1, Part IV, Subpart iii, 3.D.
  • the request is for a determination based on eligibility requirements for a Veteran who is MIA or captured, and
  • a claims folder does not exist
  • use the Personnel Information Exchange System to send to the appropriate branch of service a request using code O99
  • enter Include cert of listing for more than 90 days as MIA, captured in-line-of-duty (ILOD) by hostile force, and/or forcibly detained or interned ILOD by foreign govt or power when completing the request, and
  • perform any additional required development concurrently with submission of the request for service information.

IX.i.5.A.3.d.  When a Rating Decision Is Required

A rating decision is required when the RLC requests an eligibility determination as to whether
  • the Veteran’s death was SC
  • discharge or release from active duty was because of an SC disability, or
  • a serviceperson hospitalized pending final discharge has an SC disability for which he/she could be discharged or released.

IX.i.5.A.3.e.  Instructions for Preparing the Rating Decision

Prepare the rating decision in the Veterans Benefits Management System – Rating by selecting Other for CATEGORY, and Ancillary Benefits for SUBJECT.  This will generate the statement “Eligibility for loan guaranty benefits [is][is not] established” in the Codesheet.
Important:  Do not make the rating decision for loan guaranty benefits a part of any other rating decision.
Note:  A copy of the rating decision will only be furnished to the RLC upon request.  The VSC will update the corporate record, as appropriate, to show that the Veteran was released or discharged from service because of a disability.
Reference:  For more information on preparing memorandum ratings based on a review of available medical evidence for separating service members, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart i, 2.C.9.d.

IX.i.5.A.3.f.  Making Basic Eligibility Determinations

Use the table below to make basic eligibility determinations.
If …
Then …
basic eligibility is shown
  • furnish the certification signed by the Veterans Service Center Manager, Pension Management Center Manager, or designee, to the RLC, and
  • file a copy in the claims folder or ensure a copy is uploaded into the eFolder, as appropriate.
basic eligibility is not shown
notify the RLC of the reason why the certification cannot be furnished.
the basic eligibility determination is pending
notify the RLC of the reason why the certification cannot be furnished at this time.
Note:  If a determination is pending, furnish the RLC notification of the outcome after the determination is made.
References:  For more information on

IX.i.5.A.3.g.  Providing Certification

If basic eligibility is shown, and the application is made by the
  • When VA Form 3232General Information Request, is received from the RLC, this form will be annotated and used in lieu of the forms mentioned above.
  • Send the surviving spouse VA Form 21P-534 or VA Form 21P-534EZ when
    • basic eligibility is shown because of SC death, and
    • there is no indication that this form was furnished previously.

IX.i.5.A.3.h. Limit on the Number of Certifications That May Be Issued

If the RLC submits multiple requests for eligibility determinations for the same beneficiary, do not issue more than one certificate of eligibility.
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