Can I Get a VA Loan If I'm Unemployed?

Whether you have a disability that keeps you from working, you're enjoying being a stay-at-home parent after leaving the military, or you're still transitioning to civilian life, there are lots of reason a veteran might not have steady employment. But does that mean that your VA loan benefits are off the table?

Most of the time lenders are going to be wary about lending to someone without a job. How can they be sure that you'll be able to pay the loan each month if you don't have money coming in? When it comes to VA loans, not much is different. Lenders are going to want to know you've been employed steadily for the past two years and they'll want to see the pay stubs and tax returns to prove it. 

Since lenders want two years of continuous employment, things can be tricky even if you have a job. For example, what happens if you've only been out of the service for one year? Many lenders will take this on a case-by-case basis, but there are some things that will help your chances. One thing lenders like to see is that your civilian job is in the same field as your military one. So, if you were an engineer in the military a lender would want to see you working as an engineer as opposed to something that didn't use that same skill set, like a barista. In this case, they'll also want some confirmation that your job is likely to continue. 

There are always exceptions to the rule. 

Unemployed with disability  

So, what happens if you can't work due to a disability? Does that mean you can't take advantage of your VA loan benefits? Definitely not. If you're receiving money from the government for your disability, that can count as income as long as you can prove that it will continue for at least the next three years. The same is true for your retirement income, basic housing allowance, social security, and any child support or alimony payments. 

Getting a VA loan with your spouse

Maybe you're a stay-at-home parent or you're taking a much-needed sabbatical from work and your spouse's income is supporting the family. Do you need to go back to the daily grind in order to qualify for a VA loan? Not necessarily. You may be able to co-borrow with your spouse and use their income to help you qualify for the loan. Be careful though, their debt will also count against you. So, if your spouse is the breadwinner, but has a large amount of student loan debt, you may still be unable to qualify.

So, no, it's not impossible to get a VA loan if you're unemployed, you'll just need to be able to prove you have another source of income other than a paycheck.