VA Loan Grants and Waivers for Disabled Veterans
Zero-down-payment mortgages are a great option, but eligible borrowers can expect access to additional benefits if they are qualified, disabled veterans. And, they may qualify for fee waivers and valuable grants too.
Two decades. That’s how long John Swanson lived in inadequate housing with hallways and doorways too narrow for his wheelchair. The 100-percent disabled Vietnam-era Veteran endured broken toes and bruised kneecaps before finally taking steps toward using his VA loan benefits for a handicap-accessible home.
The ultimate motivator? Mud. His wheelchair slipped off uneven pavement outside his apartment and he was stuck for two hours until a neighbor found him. “I couldn’t live like that any longer,” John shares.
Swanson's story from renter to new custom homeowner (click here to read full story) conveys the struggle that many disabled veterans face when seeking to use their VA benefits. Education and support are crucial to obtaining the most out the VA loan program. Learning the basics about VA home loans and other opportunities available to disabled veterans is a good place to start.
VA Home Loan Basics
The Federally-backed VA loan benefit helps millions of eligible military members and select government employees finance their homes. Some of the highlights of the program include:
- No Down Payment on Purchases up to $424,100 (and higher in certain counties)
- No Private Mortgage Insurance
- Competitive Interest Rates
- No Pre-payment Penalties
- Up to all closing costs and up to 4% concessions may be paid by seller
Disabled veterans may receive even more VA benefits due to their sacrifice. Vets discharged due to a service-connected disability will likely meet service-length requirements for a VA loan, even if they do not meet the minimum required service days for war or peacetime on active duty. In addition, they may qualify for cost-saving waivers or grants to modify their homes to specific needs.
Disability Compensation = VA Funding Fee Waiver
Vets who receive VA compensation for a service-connected disability, or are entitled to it but are getting retirement or active duty pay instead, are exempt from the VA funding fee. The fee can run from .5 to 3.3 percent. If you’re receiving disability compensation each month, then let your loan officer know so you can get the appropriate exemption.
Specially Adapted Housing Grants Available to Modify/Build Homes
The VA Loan Guaranty Division does more than back home loans made by lenders. It also administers Specially Adapted Housing grants. The money can help certain disabled veterans modify or build homes to best fit their needs. Up to $67,555 can be awarded each fiscal year to a qualifying veteran. And, an individual can receive the grant up to three times. The money can be used for things like wheelchair ramps, specially adapted kitchens and bathrooms and even safer walkways.
If you have a permanent and total service-connected disability you may be eligible. Here are some examples of conditions that qualify:
- Loss of or loss of use of both arms and/or both legs
- Blindness in both eyes or limited to light perception
- Certain severe burn injuries
- Certain severe respiratory injuries
If you thought you weren’t eligible in the past, things may have changed for you. In December 2013, the VA published an Interim Final Rule regarding automatic SAH grant eligibility for all Veterans with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS rated as service-connected. The rule is designed to speed up the SAH eligibility process for certain veterans and servicemembers with the rapidly debilitating disease, so that they can adapt their homes before their condition gets much worse.
John Swanson dreamed about living in a home that would accommodate his disability for over 20 years. Today, he and his fiancé Terry (pictured above) are living the dream, thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated individuals who went above and beyond to help him achieve it.
NEXT STEP: To learn more about VA home loan benefits for disabled veterans, click here to connect with an experienced VA mortgage specialist.