VA Home Loan Learning Center
The Blue Water Navy Act
Signed into law in June 2019, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 provides service-connected disability benefits to many Veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam, and in some cases their surviving family members. Blue Water Navy Veterans are now eligible for many VA disability benefits due to their exposure to a multitude of herbicides during their service during the Vietnam War.
If you'd like to read the Blue Water Navy Act's Circular, you may do so here:
In addition, as part of the Blue Water Navy legislation, Congress also authorized the following changes to the VA Home Loan benefits beginning on January 1, 2020 for all eligible Veterans:
Several provisions of the Act interact with each other to impact the costs for Veterans using their home loan benefits.
Beginning on January 1, the VA Funding Fee will increase for some Veterans, however, the effective 'cap' on VA, no-down-payment loans was eliminated.
Veterans paying a funding fee and making a down payment should consider the costs associated with their particular situation. It may be advantageous to wait to buy or refinance a home until after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020.
The law includes changes to the VA Home Loan program, most notably, changes to guaranteed loan limit amounts and to Congressionally-mandated home loan funding (user) fees. More specifically the law authorized:
• A slight, temporary increase of the home loan funding (user) fee rates for certain loans closed on or after January 1, 2020.
• An across-the-board reduction of funding fee rates for Reservist and National Guard borrowers to align them with fees paid by ‘regular military’ borrowers.
• An exemption from paying the funding fee, for active-duty Purple Heart recipients.
• A removal of the ‘effective loan limits’ for VA-guaranteed loans, closed on or after January 1, 2020.
This Act may be especially of interest to Veterans seeking to obtain what are commonly referred to as “jumbo” loans, or to Veterans living in higher-cost markets (such as much of the Bay Area), as VA borrowers with full-entitlement may now obtain no-down payment VA guaranteed home loans in all areas of the country, regardless of housing prices.
Blue Water Navy Act: The Entire Act
Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Veterans who served as far as 12 nautical miles from the shore of Vietnam, or who had service in the Korean DMZ, are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides such as Agent Orange, and may be entitled to service connection for any of the 14 conditions related to herbicide exposure.
The VA is also now able to extend benefits to children with spina bifida whose Blue Water Navy Veteran parent may have been exposed while serving.
Additionally, the Act made changes to the VA Home Loan Program, specifically:
Blue Water Navy Act: Loan Funding Fee Changes
At this time, there is a temporary change to the VA Funding Fee, which is a congressionally mandated fee associated with the VA Home Loan. Veterans and Servicemembers will see a slight increase of 0.15 to 0.30% in their funding fee (currently for two years), while National Guard and Reserve members will see a slight decrease in their fee to align with the fee paid by 'Regular Military' borrowers (permanent). Veterans with service-connected disabilities, some surviving spouses, and other potential borrowers are exempt from the VA loan funding fee and will not be impacted by this change.
Blue Water Navy Act: Purple Heart Recipients
If you are an active duty Servicemember who has earned a Purple Heart, your funding fee can be waived if you close on your home while still serving on active duty.
Other fees assessed at closing (title, transfer, taxes, etc.) are not included in this waiver, and may still be accrued as closing fees.
Example 1: John is purchasing a home in San Ramon for $879,000 in March, 2021. He is an active duty servicemember purchasing his third home with a VA Home Loan. He will pay:
No down payment
3.6% funding fee ($31,644 due at closing)
Closing costs were rolled into his mortgage
Example 2: Mike is purchasing a home in San Ramon for $879,000 in March, 2021. He is an active duty servicemember and a Purple Heart recipient purchasing his third home with a VA Home Loan. He will pay:
No down payment
3.6% funding fee waived
Closing costs were rolled into his mortgage
Blue Water Navy Act: Conforming Loan Limit Changes
Veterans will have greater access when using their no-down payment home loan benefit. Veterans seeking to obtain what are commonly referred to as "jumbo" loans, or Veterans living in higher-cost markets, will no longer be subject to the Federally-established conforming loan limit (CLL) maximums. After January 1, Veterans may obtain no-down payment VA-backed loans in all areas of the country, regardless of home prices.
However, the Act does not change the maximum amount of guaranty entitlement available to Veterans for loans equal to or less than $144,000, regardless of the Freddie Mac CLL. Freddie Mac CLLs are no longer a factor for Veterans with full entitlement. For Veterans with full entitlement, the maximum amount of guaranty for a loan above $144,000 is 25 percent of the loan amount, regardless of the Freddie Mac CLL.
Example 1: Tim is a first-time home buyer and wants to buy a home for $1,200,000. He has full entitlement available.
$1,200,000 x 25% [maximum guaranty percentage] =
$300,000 [amount covered by guaranty]
Example 2: Mark is looking to complete a cash-out refinance of an existing VA-guaranteed loan. He has used $80,000 of entitlement. The amount of the refi loan is $600,000.
$600,000 x 25% [maximum guaranty percentage] =
$150,000 [amount covered by guaranty]
The entitlement in Example 2 used for the existing VA-guaranteed loan can be restored for purposes of the refinance*, resulting in full entitlement becoming available to the Veteran.
The cash-out refinance restoration condition must be shown on the COE for the entitlement to be restored.
*Note: Lenders may restore entitlement for a cash-out refinance of active VA-guaranteed loans when ordering or correcting the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Step-by-step instructions on how to obtain a cash-out refinance conditional COE and/or how to correct a COE are located in the VA's Cash-Out Refinance Webinar Slides, Lender’s Certificate of Eligibility (COE) Tutorial, and Correct COE Quick Reference Guide in the links below.
Blue Water Navy Act: Changes to Native American Direct Loans (NADL)
The new law removes the loan limit of $80,000 for Veterans using their entitlement for a VA Native American Direct loan to build or purchase a home on Federal trust land. Eliminating the loan limit enhances access to home loan benefits for Native American Veterans.
Disability Housing Grants
The VA offers three different types of housing grants for Veterans and service members with certain service-connected disabilities so they can buy or change a home to meet their needs and live more independently. Changing a home might involve installing ramps or widening doorways. These grants are called the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant, the Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant, and the Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant.
Can I get a Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant?
You may be able to get an SAH grant if you’re using the grant money to buy, build, or change your permanent home (a home you plan to live in for a long time) and you meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true. You:
Own or will own the home, and
Have a qualifying, service-connected disability*, which includes:
The loss or loss of use of more than one limb
The loss or loss of use of a lower leg along with the residuals (lasting effects) of an organic (natural) disease or injury
Blindness in both eyes (with 20/200 visual acuity or less)
Certain severe burns
The loss, or loss of use, of one lower extremity (foot or leg) after September 11, 2001, which makes it so you can't balance or walk without the help of braces, crutches, canes, or a wheelchair
It is important to note that only 120 Veterans and service members each fiscal year (FY) can qualify for a grant based on the loss of one extremity after September 11, 2001, as set by Congress. A fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30. If you qualify for, but don’t receive, a grant in the current fiscal year because the cap has already been reached, you may be able to use this benefit in future years.
How much funding does an SAH grant offer?
If you qualify for an SAH grant, you can get up to $100,896 for FY 2021. This is the current total maximum amount allowed for SAH grants.
Can I get a Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant?
You may be able to get an SHA grant if you’re using the grant money to buy, build, or change your permanent home (a home you plan to live in for a long time) and you meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true:
You or a family member own or will own the home, and
You have a qualifying service-connected disability, which include:
The loss or loss of use of both hands
Certain severe burns
Certain respiratory or breathing injuries
How much funding does an SHA offer?
If you qualify for an SHA grant, you can get up to $20,215 for FY 2021. This is the current total maximum amount allowed for SHA grants.
Do I have to use the total grant amount this year?
No. If you're eligible for an SAH or SHA grant, you can use money from your grant up to 6 different times over your lifetime.
Depending on the adaptations you need, and the bid from your builder, you can use as much or as little of your grant as you need this year. If you don't use the full amount, you can use more money from the grant in future years.
We may adjust the total maximum amount each year based on the cost of construction. You may receive up to the current total maximum amount for the last year you use the grant.
Can I get a Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant to change a family member's home where I'm living?
You may be able to get a Temporary Residence Adaptation (TRA) grant if you meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true. You:
Qualify for an SAH or SHA grant (see above), and
Are living temporarily in a family member’s home that needs changes in order to meet your needs. (To use a TRA grant, you don't have to own the house.)
How much funding does a TRA grant offer?
If you qualify for an SAH grant, you can get up to $40,637 through the TRA grant program for FY 2021.
If you qualify for an SHA grant, you can get up to $7,256 through the TRA grant program for FY 2021.
VA Policy on Natural Disasters
1. Contact FEMA
Begin the disaster application process online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800‐621‐3362. In order to receive the maximum assistance, you must register with FEMA before their deadline expires. Do not pay your loan in full before checking with the Small Business Administration (SBA) regarding a loan for the uninsured portion of your loss. Additional support, including low‐interest loans, cash grants, and housing assistance may be available from agencies associated with the disaster recovery effort. For more information:
2. Contact your mortgage company
You are responsible for making regular monthly loan payments, even if your home is not habitable, so contact your lender as soon as possible regarding your loss. If you are unable to make payments on time, we encourage you to discuss forbearance or a loan modification. Also, have your lender explain procedures for insurance loss checks, repairs to your property, payments to contractors, etc.
You may also contact the VA at 877‐827‐3702 to speak with a Loan Technician about your options.
3. Contact Your Insurance Company
File an insurance claim as soon as possible; however, do not make a hasty settlement on insurance. When the property is damaged but repairable, attempt to get your local engineer’s office to inspect your home for structural damage. If possible, get at least two estimates from licensed contractors for cost of repairs or rebuilding. ‐‐ Insurance checks for personal property and living expenses should be payable to you only. Checks for damage to your home should be payable to both you and your mortgage company.
If your home was adapted through VA’s Specially Adapted Housing program, please contact the VA at 877‐827‐3702 as supplemental grant funds may be available to help with repairs.
4. Change your Address
If you are receiving a monthly benefit check from the VA or another source and you will not be able to receive mail at your regular address, notify your local post office of your forwarding address and the applicable VA Regional Office of your change of address.
For information on other VA benefits, please contact the VA Benefits Department at 800‐827‐1000.
5. Check Other Sources for Assistance
Contact local offices of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) or other veterans’ organizations to see if special assistance may be available, even to non‐members of the organization.
Loan Closed Prior to Disaster. Any loan closed prior to the date of the declared disaster is eligible for VA Guaranty without regard to the disaster. The “Information for Mortgage Servicers” section of the PDF linked below applies to these cases.
Properties Appraised Prior to Disaster. If the property was appraised on or before the date of the declared disaster and not closed prior to that date, please have your Mortgage Lender refer to the 5 items on page two (2) of the PDF linked below, which will need to be submitted with your VA guaranty request.
If you have a VA loan and your home was affected by a natural disaster, we encourage you to take the steps listed below to ensure you receive the assistance you need.
Are You Having Trouble Making Payments?
If you fall far behind on your mortgage payments, your mortgage servicer (the company that handles collecting the money for your lender) can take your house to cover the money owed. This process is called foreclosure. VA loan technicians can help you avoid foreclosure and keep your house.
As a Veteran, you are eligible to receive VA financial counseling.
If you’re a Veteran or the surviving spouse of a Veteran, the VA will provide financial counseling—even if your loan isn’t a VA direct or VA-backed loan.
If you have a VA direct or VA-backed loan, you can contact the VA anytime to request that they assign a VA loan technician to your loan. These technicians can offer you financial counseling and help you deal with your servicer (or work with you directly in the case of a VA direct loan).
If you have a VA direct or VA-backed loan and it’s 61 days past due, the VA will automatically assign a VA loan technician to your loan.
Be careful about offers to help you make up back payments
If you’re behind on your mortgage payments and you get this type of offer from someone you don’t know, contact the servicer of your mortgage or your nearest VA regional loan center for advice. They can let you know if it’s an honest offer.
Regional Loan Centers
For Veterans or Servicemembers who have a VA-guaranteed conventional or sub-prime loan, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a network of eight Regional Loan Centers that can offer advice and guidance during times of financial hardship.
Borrowers may visit their regional office, or call toll free -1-877-827-3702 to speak with a VA Loan Technician. However, if a Veteran does not have a VA-guaranteed home loan, the VA does not have the authority to intervene on the borrower's behalf. It is imperative that you contact your mortgage servicer as quickly as possible when faced with financial hardship.
If you have questions about the VA Home Loan, housing grants, or whether you may qualify for a VA Home Loan, you may contact one of the VA's Home Loan Technicians by calling 1-877-827-3702.
The VA Home Loan's toll-free number operates Monday - Friday, from 8:00am to 6:00pm EST.
Alternatively, you may contact the applicable regional office via the email, phone, or mailing address listed below.
VA Regional loan centers
Residential area surrounding Camp Parks.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
210 Franklin Road, S.W.
Roanoke, VA 24011
Construction & Valuation
Dept. of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Loan Center
1240 East Ninth Street
Cleveland, OH 44199
Construction & Valuation
Want advice on buying a home, renting, default, foreclosure avoidance, credit issues or reverse mortgages?
HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country to provide free or low cost advice. Search the HUD website for a housing counseling agency near you, or call HUD's interactive voice system at: (800) 569-4287.
If you would like to talk to a reverse mortgage counselor, you can search HUD's list of counselors here.
Foreclosure prevention counseling and homeless counseling services are available free of charge through HUD's Housing Counseling Program.
Housing Counseling agencies participating in HUD's Housing Counseling Program are not permitted to charge consumers for these specific housing counseling services.
Counseling recipients should not pay for these services. However, housing counseling agencies are permitted to charge reasonable and customary fees for other forms of housing counseling and education services, including pre-purchase, reverse mortgage, rental, and non-delinquency post-purchase counseling services, provided certain conditions are met:
Agencies must provide counseling without charge to persons who demonstrate they cannot afford the fees;
Agencies must inform clients of the fee structure in advance of providing services;
Fees must be commensurate with the level of services provided.
If you encounter housing counseling agencies that you believe are not complying with these requirements, you should contact HUD's Office of Housing Counseling.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
Veteran borrowers called up to active duty may be able to request relief pursuant to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA is intended to ease the economic and legal burdens on military personnel during their active service. The Act may provide for a lower interest rate, or prevent foreclosure or eviction for up to nine months following the period of military service.
In order to qualify for certain protections available under the Act, the borrower must request protection under the Act, and the loan must have originated prior to the current period of active military service.
f you have questions about SCRA, you can either contact your lender directly, or reach a trained VA counselor at your nearest VA Regional Loan Center, or call 877-827-3702.
The Department of Defense has detailed some of the most common forms of protection in a publication posted online at the DOD link below. Some of these protections are:
6% Cap on Interest Rates
Termination of Leases
Protection from Eviction
Stay of Proceedings
Reopening Default Judgments
For more information about SCRA, please click on one of the following links: