Tag Archives: reverse mortgage

Seniors Only Keeping < = 75% Of Social Security After Medical Expenses

Concerns over the future of Social Security play a starring role in American seniors’ overall retirement uncertainty — and that’s before considering how much of the benefit might eventually need to go toward unexpected medical expenses.

After factoring in supplemental insurance premiums and other uninsured health costs, the average retiree only takes home 75% of his or her Social Security benefits, according to a new study from researchers at Tufts University and Boston College.

“A substantial share of other households have even less of their benefits left over,” researchers Melissa McInerney of Tufts and Matthew S. Rutledge and Sara Ellen King of BC wrote.

In fact, for three percent of retirees, out-of-pocket health expenses actually exceed their Social Security Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) benefits, the team concludes.

These findings are part of an overall trend: Despite positive steps such as the introduction of Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs in 2006, seniors have increasingly paid more for health expenses directly from their pockets.

“Until a slowdown during this decade, out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries rose dramatically — costs increased by 44% between 2000 and 2010 — and they are expected to continue to rise faster than overall inflation,” the researchers wrote.

To perform their study, which was introduced at the annual Joint Meeting of the Retirement Research Consortium in Washington, D.C. last week, the team analyzed individual data points for Social Security recipients aged 65 and older between 2002 and 2014. They found a wide range in medical spending among that cohort: For instance, while the median retiree spent $2,400 in 2014, the total group averaged $3,100 per person, with retirees in the 75th percentile logging $4,400.

The researchers also warn that they only analyzed medical expenses, citing a 2017 paper that concluded that housing costs, taxes, and “non-housing debt” eat up about 30% of a retiree’s income.

“Although out-of-pocket medical spending has declined somewhat since the instruction of Part D … these findings suggest that Social Security beneficiaries’ lifestyles remain vulnerable to a likely revival in medical spending growth,” the team concludes.

Read McInerney, Rutledge, and King’s full findings here.

By Alex Spanko | Reverse Mortgage Daily

A Look At Our Older Population, Higher Interest Rate Trend

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The United States of America, 2047: The population bumps up against 400 million people, with a full 22 percent of folks aged 65 and older — or 85.8 million seniors. The national debt rises so high that the country spends more money on interest payments than all of its discretionary programs combined, a scenario that’s never been seen in a half-century of tracking such metrics. And that’s all assuming that elected officials even find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare funded at their current levels.

This stark vision comes courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office and its most recent Long-Term Budget Outlook. The nonpartisan CBO looks into its crystal ball and predicts the economic picture for the next 30 years, and the results could prove fascinating for folks who work in financial planning and lending — or, perhaps, send them screaming into the night.

Interest Rates Creep Higher, But Not Historically So

For instance, the CBO joins the chorus of other financial analysts by projecting steady increases in interest rates over the coming decades as the economy improves and the Federal Reserve moves away from the historically low federal funds rates instituted during the depths of the Great Recession. But mirroring the attitudes of many in the reverse mortgage industry after the Fed last hiked its interest rate target back in March, the office also puts these trends in the larger context of recent history, 

“CBO anticipates that interest rates will rise as the economy grows but will still be lower than the average of the past few decades,” the report notes. “Over the long term, interest rates are projected to be consistent with factors such as labor force growth, productivity growth, the demand for investment, and federal deficit.”

As RMD reported at the time, rising interest rates have diverse effects on Home Equity Conversion Mortgage originators and lenders, potentially hampering needs-based borrowers with lower principal limits, but also providing opportunities to market the growing HECM line of credit and strengthening the HECM-backed securities market. 

Though the CBO doesn’t address specific numbers for federal funds rate targets, the office offers projections for the interest rate on 10-year Treasury notes, predicting a rise from 2.1% at the end of last year to 3.6% in 2027 and 4.7% in 2047. That’s still a percentage point below the average of 5.8% recorded between 1990 and 2007, a period that the CBO notes was free of major fiscal crises or spikes in inflation.

The current federal funds rate target of 0.75% to 1% still falls on the historically low side of the spectrum; prior to the economic collapse in the late 2000s, the number sat at 5.25%, and it climbed as 20% during the inflationary malaise days of the Carter and early Reagan administrations.

Rising interest rates could spell bad news for the federal government, however, as they also determine the amount of money that Uncle Sam must pay on his debts. According to the CBO’s estimates, the amount of federal debt held by the public will balloon to 150% of the gross domestic product, up from 77% now — reaching figures never seen in the history of the United States. For reference, the national debt has only ever exceeded GDP during and after World War II, when the government embarked on an unprecedented defense spending spree.

A Changing Population

In the CBO’s estimate, a variety of factors will conspire to expand the American population to about 390 million as compared to around 320 million today — while simultaneously making it grayer.

The net immigration rate, which balances out the amount of people leaving and entering the U.S., is expected to rise ever-so-slightly from 3.2 per 1,000 in 2017 to 3.3 per 1,000 in 2047, while the fertility rate for folks already in America will sit at an average of 1.9 births per woman for the next 30 years, down from the pre-recession level of 2.1.

Couple that with declines in mortality rates and gains in life expectancy, and you’ve got the recipe for an older America: A baby born in 2047 can expect to live an average of 82.8 years according to the CBO’s estimates, compared with 79.2 for children born this year. And good news for readers born in 1982: You can expect an average of 21.5 more years on this mortal coil once you turn 65 in 2047, as compared to 19.4 more years for those celebrating their 65th birthdays by the end of 2017.

The Takeaway

Interestingly, the CBO notes that it bases its entire report on the assumption that the two key pillars of Social Security and Medicare will remain funded “even if their trust funds are exhausted” — a formidable “if” given political realities and the general pitfalls of making assumptions about the future of government from 30 years out.

As Jamie Hopkins, an associate professor of taxation at the American College of Financial Services, recently told a HECM industry event, Social Security and Medicare will remain funded through 2034, and any attempts to make unpopular decisions that could benefit their long-term health — such as raising the retirement age — would spell political disaster for those who attempt a change.

Perhaps none of this comes as a surprise to originators, lenders, and others who work in the reverse mortgage space: Americans as a unit are getting older, the economic outlook remains uncertain, and no one’s really sure what’s going to become of the social safety net. Meanwhile, down on the micro level, this growing crop of seniors will need to figure out ways to remain comfortable and safe in their retirement years.

By Alex Spanko | Reverse Mortgage Daily

Hail Mary Retirement Plans for Those With Nothing Saved

Are you rounding the corner toward retirement age with not nearly enough set aside?

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We tell young people to start saving for retirement from their first job and not to quit, because even small sums can grow staggeringly large with enough decades of compound returns. But maybe you bumped along from paycheck to paycheck, never saving much. Or maybe you tried to save but got slammed with unexpected setbacks like a late-in-life job loss.

Let’s be clear: You can’t make up for lost time.

But don’t give up — you do have options. Any money you can set aside can help you make retirement more comfortable. Here’s what you need to do:

REDEFINE RETIREMENT

This means working longer, working part time in retirement or both. You’ll have more time to save, your savings will have more time to grow, and you’ll shorten the full-retirement period you’ll need to cover. That’s a nice way to say you’ll have fewer work-free years before you die.

If working longer in your current job feels like a death sentence, start looking around for paying gigs you might enjoy in retirement. Working longer may have an upside: People who voluntarily work in retirement often say their jobs keep them active and engaged.

If you start taking Social Security benefits before your full retirement age–which is currently 66 and rising to 67 for people born in 1960 and later– the “earnings test” will reduce your benefit by $1 for every $2 you earn over a certain limit ($15,720 in 2016). That reduction will end when you hit full retirement age.

DELAY SOCIAL SECURITY

The benefits of waiting are so great that it may be worth tapping whatever retirement funds you have so you can hold out until your full retirement age. If you sign up at age 62, you’ll lock in a permanently reduced check.

Most people are better off delaying their application at least until their full retirement age, currently 66 but rising to 67 for people born in 1960 or later. That would inflate a $1,500 monthly benefit to at least $2,000. If you waited until age 70, when benefits max out, the same check would grow to about $2,640 each month.

If you’re married, it’s particularly important for the higher earner to put off applying for as long as possible. When one of you dies, the survivor will get the larger of the two benefits you received as a couple. Maximizing that benefit can help keep the survivor’s final years from being a financial nightmare.

Rule of thumb: Every year you wait past age 62 adds about 7 percent to 8 percent to your eventual benefit.

TAP THE HOUSE

If you have substantial home equity, you have a powerful asset to deploy for your retirement. You can:

—Downsize now so you can invest the money freed up from the sale and from lower housing costs. The big advantages to doing it now: Your money will have more time to grow, and you may be better able to handle the disruption of a move than when you’re older.

— Downsize in retirement, when you can relocate someplace with a lower cost of living. Your job may require you to live in an expensive area, but once you retire you can choose to live somewhere cheaper within the States or, as about 1 million U.S. retirees do, abroad.

—Consider a reverse mortgage . Reverse mortgages can give you a lump sum, a stream of monthly checks or a line of credit you can tap as needed. You don’t make payments, but the debt grows over time and is paid off when you move, sell or die. The earliest you can apply is 62, but the longer you wait, the more money you can get.

New Jersey resident Walt Lukasik, 60, is investigating this option to salvage retirement plans that were upended by his wife’s cancer diagnosis 15 years ago. She hasn’t been able to work for the past eight years, and medical bills have sucked away any money they’d hoped to save, Lukasik says.

The combination of care giving and worrying about retirement is taking its toll. “It’s killing me,” he says.

If he applies for a reverse mortgage in two years, it could pay off the $75,000 balance on their current mortgage and give them a monthly payment of about $390, according to the National Reverse Lenders Mortgage Association. If he waits until the mortgage is paid off in five years, the monthly payment would be closer to $800. Other payout options include a lump sum of $93,000 or a line of credit of more than $160,000.

Reverse mortgages are complex and can be costly, so they’re not a good fit for every situation. Counseling is mandatory and typically provided by nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

TURN TO YOUR KIDS

Most U.S. parents are horrified by the notion of asking their children for money. Their kids often don’t feel the same way. A recent survey by Fidelity Investments found nine out of 10 parents think it would be unacceptable to become financially dependent on their offspring, but only three out of 10 adult children agreed with them. If there’s any chance you may need your children to help you make ends meet, consider having the conversation sooner rather than later. Bringing up the issue may be painful and embarrassing. But at least you’ll know whether you can rely on their help, and they will have time to rearrange their finances to better offer it — while, of course, saving for their own retirement.

EXPLORE PUBLIC BENEFITS

If worse comes to worst, Social Security alone can keep you above the poverty line — that’s why it was invented. You also may qualify for public benefits, such as subsidized housing, food benefits and lower-cost utilities. Start your search at Benefits.gov.

RE-EXAMINE YOUR DEBT

If consumer debt such as credit cards, medical bills and unsecured personal loans totals half or more of your gross income, explore your debt-relief options, including talking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. You may be better off saving that money than using it to chip away at debt you can’t ultimately repay.

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE

You don’t need a fortune. You do need a way to deal with an emergency or the flexibility to time your benefits better. Anything you can save will give you more choices in retirement. Having $10,000 in a savings account could pay for a new furnace or an unexpected medical bill. Boosting your savings more could allow you to delay Social Security or the start of a pension to get bigger checks.

POWER SAVE

This option is a long shot, but it may work for those with sufficient income to make a last, aggressive push to save for retirement.

You may be able to save a big chunk of your income if you’re entering the empty nest years and can funnel into retirement accounts money that you used to spend on raising and educating kids. Or maybe you’re just determined to slash expenses and buckle down to serious saving.

Let’s say you earn around $45,000. According to Social Security, your benefit at full retirement age will replace roughly 40 percent of what you make, or about $18,000 a year. Saving 20 percent to 30 percent of your income during your last 15 years of work could give you a nest egg big enough to prevent your lifestyle from falling off a cliff in retirement. (This assumes that you can manage a 6 percent average annual return, inflation averages 3 percent and that you’ll live on about 60 percent to 70 percent of your pre-retirement income for 20 years.)

If you’re able to pull this off — and that’s a big if — you can go a long way toward closing the retirement gap.

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| New York Times

We All Agree: We want to keep people in their homes if possible… sort of.

Re-posted From: Mandelman Matters

I have a long-time reader by the name of Arthur Pritchard.  He’s a really smart guy in his mid-70s, who lives in San Francisco.  He purchased the lot in 1978, and then designed and built his home on Howth Street, right near San Francisco City College, in 1988, with the help of a carpenter and the like.

In 2005, at 66 years young, and getting ready to retire or at least re-tread, he wanted to take some cash out of his home’s equity and the nice people at World Savings were standing by ready willing and able to put him right into an Option ARM mortgage, which I think even the most predatory of the predatory lenders would agree would have been about the most inappropriate choice for him in his stage of life… but, no matter.  We can always come back to that later if it makes sense.

Next, we all know what happened… the world blew up, as the housing market melted down, and the financial crisis ended the rich histories of every single investment bank on Wall Street.  Like millions of others, soon Arthur couldn’t keep up with his mortgage payments and faster than you could say, “don’t worry, you can always refinance,” he found himself headed for foreclosure.

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So far, there’s nothing that’s the least bit surprising or even unusual about Arthur’s story.  I mean, other than the people at World Savings being predatory shitheads that should probably have gone to jail or something close, everything is as it should be, right?  Of course, right.

Well, Arthur vacillated a bit on whether he should fight the loss of his home.  He tried to get a modification, to no avail, which was also not a surprise in the least.  He filed bankruptcy, tried again, and then seeing the writing on the walls he had built himself, he decided to move out and give up the fight.

The problem was that he didn’t have anywhere to go, and with his income a mere shadow of its former self, he ended up in one of the Bay Area’s finest shelters for the poor, the elderly, the people who at one time were abducted by aliens, and several drummers from bands who had hit singles during the 1960s.

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Now, Arthur’s truly a stand up guy, and when I say he’s smarter than your average bear, I’m not just whistling Dixie.  But, living in a shelter in San Francisco and later in San Jose, had to be a lousy way to look at living through his golden years, and after a while, since his home was still sitting there, he moved back in and decided to continue his fight to try to keep his home… or if not, then short sell it.

Either way, at least he wasn’t sleeping in a shelter anymore, so life was better than it would have been otherwise.  And, as is commonly the case, Wells Fargo Bank didn’t seem to be in much of a rush to foreclose and send him packing, so why not keep trying until all avenues had been exhausted?

Besides, since it had been over a year since Wells had filed a Notice of Default, they would have to start the foreclosure process over again from the beginning, so he had some time to stall if nothing else.  He rented the bottom floor of his home to a woman who had lost everything in a bankruptcy and foreclosure, in part because he wanted to help, and also to give him some walking around money and provide some protection against Wells Fargo being able to get him out in a hurry, if that’s what they decided to do.

In fairly short order, he found a lawyer who said that he could probably help him get Wells Fargo to approve a short sale, and sure enough, that’s what happened.  Wells, at least in principal (pun intended) agreed to take $375,000 for the home, the short sale process began in earnest, and being in a desirable area of San Francisco, perhaps the country’s hottest housing market, several buyers appeared on the scene.

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But wait… there’s more.

Quite predictably, another lawyer materialized saying that he could sue Wells Fargo, and get them to settle, which could mean Arthur would get to keep his home.  Having heard similar claims every day for the last six years, I wasn’t totally paying attention… that is, until yesterday.

So, that’s where things stood, at least until last night when Arthur called me to tell me of the latest developments affecting his picture perfect retirement years.

Apparently, the lawyer would not take his case to court unless Arthur could come up with some serious coinage, yet another entirely unsurprising development to my way of thinking, so Arthur was back to the short sale path, and that meant he’d be back in a shelter at some point in his future.  And, I’m sorry, but that just sucks and now my mind was connecting dots.

Okay, so maybe a lawsuit over the predatory use of the now illegal Option Arm loan would have been the best answer… maybe Wells could be pressured to settle with a guy in his mid-70s, who never should have been offered such a volatile solution.  But, regardless… Wells was already approving a short sale at $375,000…

… and having recently done a lot of research into reverse mortgages, it occurred to me that I could help Arthur get a reverse mortgage for right around $375,000 too. 

So, if Wells Fargo was now willing to allow Arthur to sell the home he’d built and lived in since 1988 for $375,000… why not sell the home to Arthur for $375,000, and Arthur would use a reverse mortgage for the purchase.  That way, he’d be able to live in his home as long as he wanted to without having to make a mortgage payment… while Wells Fargo would still be getting the exact same amount for the property they already said they were fine with receiving.

Now, I’ve known for some time that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have strict policies against such transactions.  They approve short sales, but only if the current homeowner moves out… the new buyer or renter has to be a stranger to the property.

The first time I heard about Fannie and Freddie’s policy about post-short sale strangers, I thought it sounded stranger than fiction. Banks approve short sales because doing so makes more financial sense than foreclosing as re-selling the property at auction.  Absent any fraudulent intent on the part of the borrower, why would anyone care who was renting or buying a home after it was short sold?

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But, I remember clearly, the day I called Fannie’s spokesperson to inquire about the thought process behind the policy, and was told… sure enough, the current homeowner had to move out, or the short sale would not be approved.  It seemed to me that the policy was intended to punish the borrower who could no longer afford his or her mortgage payments, and that punishment was to lose the home as either owner or renter.

I do understand, under more normal circumstances, why such a rule would be in place.  I mean, you wouldn’t want borrowers capable of paying their payments to be able to simply decide to pay some lesser amount, while remaining in their homes.  But, come on… these are not “normal” circumstances, by any stretch of the imagination.  And again… Arthur’s is NOT a Fannie or Freddie loan anyway.

So again, the operative question would seem to be: Can we all agree that we want to keep people in their homes if possible… or aren’t we in true agreement about that?

Just consider once more the facts of Arthur’s situation:

  1. He built his home in 1988.
  2. He’s now in his mid-70s, and can’t keep up with the increasing payments on his Option ARM mortgage, courtesy of World Savings.
  3. Wells Fargo has agreed to short sale the property for $375,000 and with an appraisal of roughly $600,000, at his age, Arthur could get a reverse mortgage for, let’s just say, $375,000 and that way, remain in his home for the rest of his life without having to make a mortgage payment.
  4. After his death, the home would be sold and the $375,000 lien (plus interest) would be paid from the proceeds of that sale.
  5. Anything left over after that, would go to Arthur’s heirs.

But, Wells won’t take the $375,000 from Arthur.  They’ll only take the money… even though it’s the same amount… from a stranger.  Wells is not protecting the investor with this policy, the investor would get the same amount either way.

All Wells Fargo’s refusal to accept the money from Arthur would accomplish is to force a 75 year-old man into a homeless shelter.  Everything else would remain the same either way.

So… do we agree that we want to keep people in their homes if possible or don’t we?

Surely, there aren’t people at Wells that would prefer that Arthur have no home to live in for his remaining years.  Surely, there aren’t investors that care where the $375,000 comes from, right?  Doesn’t it seem obvious that there’s some way to make this situation have a much happier ending than it will if everything is left status quo?

Are we trying to keep people in their homes, if it’s possible to do so?  Or are we more concerned with punishing borrowers who fall upon hard times, as in the worst “hard times” in 70 years, as is the situation today?

Surely, we can all see that desperate times call for desperate measures, or at least unusual times call for unusual measures… and no one benefits from putting a 75 year-old on the streets of San Francisco.  Arthur is 75… is someone honestly concerned about “moral hazard,” here?

If so, that’s just stupid.  This is a common sense solution to an obviously undesirable outcome that will occur without it.  Do we want to keep people in their homes if possible?  Or are we punishers first, who are more concerned with leaving a nickel on the table?

I’d like to say that I know the answer to that question.  I used to think I knew… but now, I’m not at all sure.