VA guidelines VA requirements

VA Loans and The 24-Month Rule

October 28, 2018


VA Loans and The 24-Month Rule

VA loans have strict eligibility rules which include requirements for minimum time on duty. Veterans cannot be approved for a VA home loan unless they meet these VA requirements. Unfortunately, minimum time on duty times vary greatly depending on when the military member served and whether they are still in the service or not.

Many veterans who served from the 1980s to the current day are affected by something called the VA 24 Month Rule. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Handbook, “If service was between Sept. 8, 1980, (Oct. 16, 1981, for officers) and Aug. 1, 1990, veterans must generally complete 24 months of continuous active duty service or the full period (at least 181 days) for which they were called or ordered to active duty, and be discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.”

This VA rule has exceptions–anyone discharged before serving 24 months could still apply for a VA mortgage if they were released for hardship, service connected disabilities, were discharged under force reduction programs or were let go for the convenience of the government.

The 24 month rule also applies to Gulf War vets. Anyone who has served from August 2, 1990 to an as-of-yet undetermined date, must also have completed 24 months of continuous service, or “the full period (at least 90 days) for which they were called to active duty,”  and not have a dishonorable discharge. The exceptions for Gulf War vets are similar to the ones that apply to those who served from September 8, 1980 to August 1, 1990.

For active duty military–those who apply for eligibility while still serving–the VA rules say the member must serve “24 continuous months or more OR the full period for which ordered to active duty, but not less than 90 days (any part during wartime) or 181 continuous days (peacetime).”

For members of the Guard and Reserve who are not otherwise eligible, the VA rules include a six-year service requirement.

  1. Ernest E.Arnold

    I am a recent veteran of the OEF/OIF campain. And I was wondering what steps I go thru if any to combine my personal debt to get a loan. Please E-mail me at Any information that you can give me would be appreciated. Thanks

  • Joe Wallace

    Hi Ernest, thanks for asking. Are you looking specifically for a VA home loan? Or are you seeking debt consolidation? The VA loan program is only for mortgages but you should talk to your loan officer about debt consolidation loans. If you're doing debt consolidation to prepare for a VA home loan, tell your lender your plans and see if you can work out a solution to get your debt-to-income ratio under 40% over the next year if that is necessary...

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