The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is warning older consumers against taking out a reverse mortgage in order to delay collecting Social Security benefits.
In a newly released report, the CFPB finds that the costs and risks of taking out a reverse mortgage can easily exceed the increase in Social Security lifetime benefits that homeowners would receive from delaying those benefits.
For example, a homeowner born after 1960 with an expected monthly Social Security benefit of $910 at age 62 will collect $1,300 per month if he or she delays claiming Social Security benefits until age 67. Given that the average life expectancy of a 62-year-old today is about 85, this homeowner’s cumulative lifetime benefit will be $29,640 more by age 85 if she claims at 67 rather than at 62.
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But if the same homeowner takes out a reverse mortgage at age 62 in order to delay claiming Social Security early, by the time he or she turns 69 (seven years is the average term of a reverse mortgage), the loan costs will be roughly $31,900, or about $2,300 more than the lifetime amount of money gained from an increased Social Security benefit if the consumer lives to age 85.
In addition to potentially higher costs, reverse mortgages also decrease a homeowner’s equity, which can limit their options if they need to sell their home after taking out the loan. The decrease in home equity will likely expand over time because loan balances are likely to grow at a faster clip than home appreciation.