Federal regulators and lenders are moving to address a growing problem with defaults on reverse mortgages. Last week, I detailed how defaults can happen on these loans to seniors, and a new initiative by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to beef up counseling services as part of a broader effort to deal with non-performing loans.
The new HUD initiative comes in the wake of criticism of the reverse mortgage industry’s marketing and consumer counseling practices. While it’s impossible to make a direct connection between the criticisms and the growing number of defaults, advocates argue that aggressive marketing has resulted in reverse mortgage sales in situations where the loans may not have been a good fit.
Reverse mortgage loans, which allow seniors to convert home equity into cash, have become more popular in recent years. But now the reverse mortgage industry and government regulators are dealing with a potential nightmare: a growing number of loan defaults that could lead to foreclosures, and even evictions of elderly homeowners in some cases.
Non-performing loans represent a small share of overall reverse mortgages, but their number has grown quickly in the past two years. (Borrowers aren’t required to make monthly mortgage payments, but can end up with a loan in default if they fall behind on their property taxes and insurance payments.) The spate of non-performing loans has raised concerns about the prospect of seniors losing their homes, and also about the risk of losses for the Federal Housing Administration Insurance Fund, which insures the loans.
Older workers are less likely to get laid off, but they’re having a much harder time finding new work than younger job-seekers.
New research by the Urban Institute shows that seniority helps protect older workers from job loss — the average jobless rate for workers over age 55 in 2010 was 7.7 percent for men, and 6.2 percent for women. That’s considerably lower than the national unemployment rate, which stood at 9.4 percent in December. Overall, workers age 50 to 61 were 34 percent less likely to lose their jobs during the downturn than younger workers, the Urban Institute researchers found.
Some Americans oppose the law on ideological grounds. But the poll numbers also reflect an enthusiasm gap stemming from the simple fact that the most important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) won’t kick in for another three years — an eternity in our hyperactive political culture.
When President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on January 25th, all indications are that he’ll embrace many of the deficit reduction recommendations put forward last month by the co-chairs of his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform.
A key section of the wide-ranging report offers recommendations to bolster the long-term fiscal health of Social Security — despite the fact that that Social Security has no direct impact on the federal deficit. Among the commission’s controversial recommendations is an increase in the age when workers can receive full Social Security benefits — the so-called normal retirement age (NRA).
The new GOP-led House of Representatives took initial steps last week to pass legislation repealing the new healthcare reform law, with one senior legislator calling it “an economic and fiscal disaster of unprecedented proportions.”
Donna Kent-Croushore is experiencing disaster of a different kind.
Kent-Croushore lost her family’s health insurance last November when her employer for the past 27 years in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, went out of business. She spent most of the holiday season scrambling to find coverage for herself and her husband, Rick Croushore.
The graying of America prompts debate about nuts-and-bolts issues such as inadequate retirement savings, and the future of Social Security and Medicare. But Ted Fishman is a big picture thinker with a deep understanding of global trends. In his new book, Shock of Gray, he explains how the aging of the world’s population will drive globalization and immigration patterns in the years ahead, and determine the economic destiny of nations – and the news isn’t all bad.
Shock of Gray grew out of themes Fishman — a veteran journalist and former Chicago Mercantile Exchange trader — explored in his first book, New York Times bestseller China Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges the World.
The recent bond market rout may be bad news for bond investors and anyone planning to refinance a mortgage anytime soon. And it’s certainly not what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had in mind when the Fed launched its massive $600 billion bond-buying spree.
But if the trend toward higher interest rates continues, it will be very good news for retirees starved for low-risk return on their portfolios.
When it comes to pensions, the advice of playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart doesn’t apply – you can, in fact, take it with you.
About one-third of private sector workers who have traditional defined benefit pensions are given a choice at retirement between a monthly annuity-style payment or a lump sum. Most retirees choose the lump sum – even though it’s rarely the smartest move.
The oldest baby boomers start turning 65 on January 1st, and the biggest generation has plenty to worry about as it starts filing Medicare applications. The road to retirement security is filled with potholes; here are the five threats that worry me most looking ahead to 2011:
1. Social Security reform. Members of Congress and President Obama were for deficit cutting before they were against it, passing a massive $858 billion tax cut package this month. But they’ll be for deficit cutting again in 2011, and Social Security will be in the cross-hairs. Most of the deficit reduction plans issued this month by Washington’s serious people would lift the retirement age, and reduce cost-of-living adjustments.