Posts Tagged ‘welcome’

SENIORS & PROBLEM GAMBLING

Friday, April 18th, 2014

April’s episode of Aging Insights talks about seniors and gambling. One of the guests is Jeff Beck, Assistant Director for Clinical Services, Treatment & Research, Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Today we feature Jeff as a guest blogger. Please read his informative piece about seniors and problem gambling. If you or someone you know has a problem please call 1-800-GAMBLER.

                Gambling has become normalized in all walks of our society. Problem gambling is an equal opportunity addiction; it can affect any gender, ethnicity, age, or income. Seniors can be at risk for gambling problems and research suggests there is an increased vulnerability for our older population.

                A study in New Jersey in 2006 identified 2% of individuals over 55 as pathological gamblers, 4% as problem gamblers and 17% as at risk gamblers. Combined that indicates that 1 out of 4 seniors may be at risk for a gambling problem.  A 2005 Pennsylvania study found that 10.9% of those over 65 in primary care facilities were at risk gamblers, this means that there is a strong possibility that gambling can interfere with health, legal status, family relations, work, physical issues, cognitive issues or emotional issues. Gambling is recognized as the most identified social activity by individuals over 65, moneys spent on bingo and casinos exceed money spent on lunches, shopping, movies and golf combined. casino_slot_machine

                Seniors may be vulnerable to gambling problems for a variety of reasons. They may be isolated and lonely, gambling can be a form of social interaction, the bus trips or bingo games are a chance to get together with friends. Gambling can be an antidote to boredom, which may set in after retirement. The senior may be attempting to cope with big changes or losses in life, gambling can be a form of maladaptive coping.  Physical illness or cognitive impairment may result in excess gambling. Seniors may be less likely to recognize addiction; they may see themselves as having a money problem rather than a gambling problem. Gambling may also represent an emotional escape, an ability to forget one’s problems, at least for a little while.

Bingo Cards

                There are several signs of senior gambling problems.  Loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and family can signify a gambling problem.  Large blocks of time unaccounted for is another sign. A change in attitude and personality often accompanies a gambling problem. Gambling problems can be evidenced by the sudden need for money or the sale or disappearance of assets. The neglect of personal needs may be suggestive of a gambling problem. Secrecy and avoidance when questioned about time or money is also possible evidence of a gambling issue.

                Gambling disorders are now recognized as an addiction, help is available. Treatment is possible and one can live a good productive life. Free counseling may be available with a certified compulsive gambling counselor. There are many self-help groups in New Jersey that can assist with gambling problems. The first step is to admit there may be a problem and to seek out help. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey operates a help-line at 1-800GAMBLER. There you can find someone who understands, a sympathetic ear that can provide you with information and resources that will allow you to stop or reduce your gambling. There need be no shame or guilt in admitting to a problem, that admission is actually a show of strength.  Today may be a great day to reach out for help at 1-800-GAMBLER.

How to get your Credit Report

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

We’ve all seen those funny commercials for credit reports and have probably read articles in magazines urging us to get our yearly free credit report. However, have you ever wondered why you need it? Or how to go about getting it? And how to avoid scams posing as free credit report services? Well, let’s try to answer some of those questions.

Knowing your credit score can help guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. Since your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money, you should check it annually to make sure it is accurate

The Federal Trade Commission enforces The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) which requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. You can see why it is important to receive your credit report to monitor these things yourself before applying for a loan, credit card, mortgage or even a new job.

To order your free credit report, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.

Here’s an important piece to remember– The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.

You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time.

Okay, so here is the part to make a note of to protect yourself from scams. Use only annualcreditreport.com to order your free credit report. That is the only site under the law- FCRA that is mandated to provide your credit report for free. Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell annualcreditreport.com in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. So make sure you type the url correctly and don’t enter your credit card information, exit the site if they ask for this information and then attempt to connect with annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.

The only information that you’ll be asked for to process your credit report is your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide credit reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

While your credit report helps determine your credit score, these reports will not give you your credit score. For more information about your credit score visit- http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0152-how-credit-scores-affect-price-credit-and-insurance#credit

For more details and to learn what steps to take if you do find inaccurate information on your credit report, please visit the Federal Trade Commission and read the article on Free Credit Reports http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)

 

Are there two types of baby boomers?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

We’ve all heard of late bloomers, but are you an early boomer or a later boomer? This recent article from the New York Times talks about just that. The author, 50 year old, Richard Pèrez-Peña  refers to the first half of the baby boom generation as “Boomer Classic” and the second half, some of whom are turning 50 this year as  “Boomer Reboot”. So which category do you fall into and do you want to be identified as a boomer? We’d love to know your stand on this, so please share your thought in the comments below.

Also, take a look at the full article to read what historical and cultural moments in the United States author, Richard Pèrez-Peña believes divides the boomer generation.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/06/booming/i-may-be-50-but-dont-call-me-a-boomer.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1389106913-W++ke/Cop2qkjTk96WJthg

More Money Tips

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

More Money Tips

Fraud and Abuse

If you have not done so already, adding yourself to the Do Not Call Registry can limit the number of mail and phone calls you receive from marketers. Contact the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov

For more information on stopping unwanted mail and phone calls visit the Federal Trade Commission online at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0260-stopping-unsolicited-mail-phone-calls-and-email

You’ve seen many ads and articles stating that a Reverse Mortgage can help you, and for some people it is a wise choice. NJFA’s Renaissance magazine has published articles outlining what you should know when considering a Reverse mortgage. You must be 62 or over to qualify and a counseling session is required.  A reverse mortgage is borrowing against the equity of your home. You must stay current with your property taxes while you live in the home and the money will have to be paid back when you or your heirs sell the home. More information can be found at www.fdic.gov/

Always be on the lookout for fraud. Here are some warning signs to be aware of:

  • An unsolicited phone call, email or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving goods and services.
  • An unexpected email or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of your checks.
  • An offer that seems too good to be true, like an investment, “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition.
  • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer.

Protecting your important documents is important. Keeping them in a safe place should also include protecting them from water damage by keeping them in an airtight and waterproof container.

The NJ Division of Consumer Affairs provides valuable information and resources to protect you. Their website features information about cyber fraud, how to determine if an investment opportunity is real and also a way to check if a charity is legitimate and other consumer warnings. Visit them online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov or call them at 1-800-242-5846.

 

SCAM Update and Warning about Robocalls

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

There was recently an article in the AARP Bulletin on that had to do with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) cracking down on new scams. This made us think we should do a blog update on scams and pass out some new warnings from the FTC.

What’s new? Well, it seems scammers are now impersonating medical alert companies in order to get money or personal information (to steal your identity) from seniors. The scams are coming in the form of phone calls, sometimes with a live person and sometimes an automated or robocall. The calls are either trying to sell you a system, often using very strong tactics to get you to give your credit card or other payment information or they are stating that you (or someone you know) have already ordered the system and demanding payment. They have even been known to threaten legal action if you don’t pay up.

What you should know. Robocalls are illegal. But you may be asking, what is a Robocall? Well, direct from the FTC, here is an explanation of a robocall:

If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. You’ve probably gotten robocalls about candidates running for office, or charities asking for donations. These robocalls are allowed. But if the recording is a sales message and you haven’t given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal. In addition to the phone calls being illegal, their pitch most likely is a scam.

So, what should you do if you get a robocall? The FTC recommends that you, hang up the phone. They also say you shouldn’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.

What else can you do?

• Consider contacting your phone provider and asking them to block the number, ask about whether they charge for that service. Remember that telemarketers change Caller ID information easily and often, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will change.

• Report your experience to the FTC online at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0341-file-complaint-ftc or by calling 1-888-382-1222.

Some other helpful tips:

If you get an unsolicited call, hang up. Don’t even ask for details from someone making a cold call.

If you are interested in a medical alert product, gather the information and ask for documentation of fees up front.

Beware of offers that state your insurance will cover medical alert programs or that you can get them for free. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies will not pay for this service.

Don’t pay for anything that you didn’t order. Hang up and contact authorities to make a complaint if you are threatened.

And again, don’t press any numbers as prompted in the robocall, this could just notify them that this is a live, working phone number and you could become the target of future calls or scams.

For more information from the Federal Trade Commission visit: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0259-robocalls

Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

 Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

In continued celebration of NJFA’s 15th Anniversary, we’d like to share with you a guest blog from a former grantee, The Camden City Garden Club, Inc.

The Camden City Garden Club, Inc. (CCGC) operates several programs, which provide Camden residents of all ages access to fresh, locally-grown healthy food.  The CCGC’s Community Gardening Program enables 1000s of Camden families to grow their own food in community gardens, close to residents’ homes and promotes fellowship among neighbors.  The Camden City Garden Club provides plants, seeds, fertilizers, fencing, supplies and tips to its members for a small membership fee.

Through the Community Gardening Program, the CCGC works with the community to fight hunger and obesity in Camden, NJ, which is the one of the poorest, most dangerous US cities and also one of the “Top 9 Food Deserts”, according to the USDA. In 2013, the CCGC celebrates 29 Years of the Community Gardening Program, which is “perhaps the fastest growing in the US,” according to University of Pennsylvania study.  Today, CCGC has created and supports over 120 community gardens, 100 family gardens, and 12 school gardens.  The CCGC is helping more than 12% of Camden residents to eat fresh food from these gardens, producing an estimated $2.3 million in fresh produce each year, according to the report by University of Pennsylvania.

CCGC PROGRAMS ARE ASSISTING NJ SENIORS

With support from foundations like the NJ Foundation for Aging(NJFA), the CCGC has increased community gardening with seniors at Camden senior residence facilities.  CCGC and NJFA have also established a Senior Citizen Advisory Council for the Garden Club to improve services to encourage seniors to garden.  The Council has been operating successfully with 10 members, who represent various communities in the City of Camden.  Council members serve as teachers, mentors and guides to advance community gardens in Camden, addressing the particular needs of senior citizens and their families.  They provide the CCGC with advice on the needs of seniors and serve as mentors for those wishing to start-up new gardens and improve their gardening methods.

The CCGC Community Gardening Program is multi-generational and multi-ethnic.  It has a way of bringing together people of different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds and having them work together to grow food for themselves, their families and neighbors.   The study by the University of Pennsylvania found that Camden gardens were remarkable for the amount of surplus that they produced and their generosity in sharing it with their neighbors.  These programs are especially helpful to Camden’s elderly as they often to not have access to transportation, are on a fixed income and because growing fresh foods is so important to a healthy active lifestyle.

GARDENING AT SENIOR HOUSING & GROWING FELLOWSHIP

Since its founding, senior citizens have always been a cherished part of the Garden Club.  Many of the members were older people who were interested in gardening since the time they were young children.  Garden Club senior gardeners include African Americans who grew up on farms in the South, some from Mexico, Puerto Rico and others who remember gardening with their parents and grandparents on small backyard gardens. 

Through support from the NJFA, the CCGC has been able to expand their services for seniors.  The Club supports large gardens at Northgate I and Northgate II, senior housing developments that accommodate over 50 gardeners.  There are several other community gardens throughout the City of Camden which are led by and cultivated by the CCGC’s active gardening senior.  Some outstanding gardens have been attributed to senior gardeners:  Paul Williams has an extensive garden – both have been focal points of their neighborhoods and a source of a surplus of healthy food.   The CCGC has supported the extensive community garden called the “Men’s Garden” because of the large number of senior men who garden there, as well as, their utilizing the outdoor space as a meeting place. 

INTERGENERATIONAL GARDENING & LEARNING

CCGC’s Community Gardening Program also offers opportunities for intergenerational learning.  Seniors have the opportunity to mentor the Camden teenagers who work as part of Youth Employment and Job Training Program,.  In addition, CCGC hosts AmeriCorps volunteers, young people who are part of the program CCGC hosts who come to volunteer in Camden, help seniors with some of their gardening work in return for learning from them about gardening, food and life.  Hundreds of Camden school children participate annually in the CCGC’s GrowLab Program.  Many of these children have community gardens in their neighborhoods at home, so they often teach their families and neighbors what they learned in school.  The seniors enjoy working and teaching the children what they know about gardening and preparing healthy meals also! 

SUPPLEMENTATION DELIVERED

To help supplement the food grown in the community gardens, the CCGC also operates a successful mini farm stand at the Camden Children’s Garden, which sells produce to seniors to supplement what they are able to grow themselves, with items like seasonal apples, blueberries, peaches and corn.  The Fresh Mobile Market will sell quality fresh vegetables and fruit at low prices.  Some of the produce will be grown at the CCGC’s Urban Farm on 3rd and Beckett Streets in Camden, NJ.  CCGC Board member and supporter, Duffield’s Farm in Sewell, NJ, will also supply produce.  In addition, the newly launched Fresh Mobile Market Program will bring fresh foods even closer to the homes of elderly residents, with a special focus on senior housing.  This program was launched May 2013 at a senior living facility Mickle Towers, along with the Fresh Mobile Partners, including the NJ Department of Agriculture, NJ 5th Legislative District, Camden County Freeholders, City of Camden Mayor, City of Camden Council, Duffield’s Farm, Holman Ford Lincoln, Walmart Corporation, Whole Foods Markets.  Also, the CCGC’s “Camden Grows”, the USDA Entrepreneurial Gardening Program, will enable Camden Community Gardeners to make a profit by selling their surplus of crops to the Mobile Market Program. 

POPULATION SERVED

The target population for the NJFA grants were low income senior citizens.  Throughout the year, CCGC estimates that at least 1,400 senior citizens (20% of CCGC’s 7,000 gardeners have been served).  CCGC has exceeded their goals for Senior Community Gardening and will continue to work with seniors as an integral part of the garden program. 

In conclusion, seniors are important leaders in the CCGC, providing inspiration and direction to gardeners of all ages throughout the city.  There is a great excitement about CCGC’s Community Gardening Program in Camden and senior citizens are an important reason for that.

To learn more about the Camden City Garden Club go to http://camdenchildrensgarden.org/about.html

 

 

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Affordable housing is more important than ever for low income seniors and low income families.

A recent Appellate Division’s decision provides an important opportunity for municipalities to utilize much-needed housing trust funds to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing for low-income seniors across the state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Many of these funds were specifically designated for the development of senior housing in the nine counties hardest hit by the storm. This includes 131 senior units in Monmouth County, 6 special needs unit for the elderly by Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey in Livingston, Essex County; and 5 senior rental by Catholic Charities in Harrison, Hudson County.

The court’s decision comes at a critical time in this state’s history with the high demand for affordable senior housing and the rising cost of living. In just three short years, the cost of living for seniors living in a one bedroom apartment on a fixed income in New Jersey has increased 8 percent, according to data released in 2012 by the New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA).

The cost of living for a single renter over the age of 65 was $25,941 in 2009. That same renter, living in the same one-bedroom apartment, saw her cost of living quickly climb more than $2,000 to $27,960, by 2012. However, there was not a comparable rise in income or Social Security.  Seniors on fixed incomes have been plagued in recent years with rising expenses for housing, transportation and health care. In many cases this has resulted in a rise in senior hunger and even homelessness. Their highest cost is their housing expenses.

Twenty five percent of all seniors in our state rely on Social Security as their only income. So NJ seniors can least afford the trend in rising expenses. The result is a widening of the gap between basic living expenses and their income. The NJ Elder Economic Index details these costs for seniors in each of the 21 NJ counties. These details indicate how seniors are faring in the slow economy. The latest data shows that 250,000 seniors over the age of 65 in New Jersey – representing 42 percent of single and elderly couples living in the community – do not have the money to cover their basic costs. Sixty-four percent of people in this group are women.

The report, known as the NJ Elder Economic Index, indicates that the average Social Security for a woman being $14,848. But average living expenses for a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey has reached the $27,960 mark. So how can we expect to call these the golden years if elders must choose between food, heat, shelter or prescriptions? Even if a person worked and saved for retirement this rise in costs are unprecedented and these elders are one step from their own ‘fiscal cliff’. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging wants to alert and connect elders to resources in their community that might ease the financial strain they may be feeling each day. 

A woman receiving $14,848 from Social Security as her sole income with the average costs of a one bedroom apartment at $27,960 is only 53% economically secure.  At this income level she would be eligible for several food and nutrition programs, as well utility assistance programs. These programs would improve her quality of life and enable her to use her income to cover more of her basic living costs, but she would still fall short of meeting her costs by 21%. The only public benefit program that would help her to close the gap is affordable housing. 

The most costly portion of an elder’s monthly expenses is their housing. More than 46 percent of their income must go towards their housing, taxes and utilities.  This highlights the need for more affordable housing. The state’s housing shortage has been documented for several decades. And the need for affordable housing in the community for people of all ages has only been further stressed by the recent storms and floods across the state. Public awareness is a key component to help local advocates, state policy makers, municipal leaders and planners address current and future needs. Where you live at age 65 or 70?  Persons over age 75 and older have even fewer income assets. Where will your parents live at age 85?

If these funds are not protected and utilized, Otherwise low-income seniors and low-income families will continue to be displaced by Sandy and homeless for many years to come. Each municipality’s affordable housing trust funds are needed now more than ever for the development of new housing because of the impact of hurricane Sandy. We cannot afford to be silent on this issue. Elders who have been active in their community who want to downsize need affordable housing options; working families who want good schools and safe streets need affordable housing; health care workers who want to be close to their work and patients need affordable housing. A healthy blend of housing types is crucial to nurture a community’s cultural and social vitality as well as its economic base. “NJ Strong” must include affordable housing options to serve it residents and to build back the local economy.

*this was submitted and printed as an op-ed in the Asbury Park Press on 6/19/13 by Grace Egan, Executive Director, NJFA

Did you know? NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Did you know?

Did you know that NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year! Yes, NJFA was incorporated in 1998. It’s got us thinking, “what have we accomplished in all that time?” Well, the answer is, quite a lot. And we’d like to tell you about it.

When NJFA was established in 1998 it was formed with a mission to promote innovative approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity through grant making to address unmet needs and through increasing society’s awareness to influence public policy. NJFA still seeks to hold true to that mission today, 15 years later.

Here’s how we’ve been doing so far:

NJFA has provided 44 grants to programs serving NJ Seniors.

Those 44 grants total $380,000 given to programs that serve more than 25,000 seniors across NJ.

NJFA provides public awareness through, Renaissance Magazine with 100,000 readers and Aging Insights, a public access TV program with 400,000 viewers, now on NJFA’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging

Public Policy- NJFA’s 2012 NJ Elder Economic Index Update Project is a continuation of Policy Work that began in 2009 with the first Elder Index report. The 2012 report adds demographic information to the cost of living report. Data is available in for all 21 Counties.

NJFA also continues to make transportation a priority, following the policy report, “Safe Mobility at Any Age” in 2005, we continue to work with partners like the Voorhees Transportation Center, Motor Vehicle Commission and AAA Automobile Club.

Professional Development-  15th Annual Professional Conference, June 12, 2013 Conference, Jamesburg, NJ. A day-long conference for professionals in  the aging network. Over 200 attendees will hear Nationally recognized key note speakers and be a able to chose from sessions on evidence based best practices and new initiatives for seniors and caregivers in NJ.

So you see, NJFA has really done a lot in 15 years and we hope to continue being a leading force in promoting “Aging Well” in NJ. Visit us at www.njfoundationforaing.org to learn more.

How can you help? When you visit our website, click on the donate here page to make a donation online or print out a donation form and mail it to us at 176 West State St, Trenton, NJ 08608.

Have questions or want more info? Call us at 609-421-0206 or email us at office@njfoundationforaging.org, we’d be glad to tell you all about our work!

After all, none of NJFA’s work would be possible without the support of our donors, partners, funders and of course our Board of Trustees and Senior Executive Council members!

 

 

 

Building on Wisdom: NJFA’s 15th Annual Conference

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Press Release

For Immediate Release                                                                      Contact:  Grace Egan

April 11, 2013                                                                                                  Melissa Chalker

                                                                                                                         609-421-0206

Building on Wisdom: NJFA’s 15th Annual Conference!

NJFA will hold its 15th Annual Conference on Wednesday, June 12th at the Crowne Plaza Monroe. This year’s conference, titled, Building on Wisdom will feature two nationally recognized keynote speakers.

The morning keynote presentation will be given by Dr. Mike Magee, President of Positive Medicine, Inc. Dr. Magee is committed to transforming powerful health visions into action. Recognized as a visionary leader of the home-centered health care movement and lifespan planning records, he has advised the Institute of Medicine on these topics. Dr. Magee is the author of 10 books including, Home Centered Health Care, Positive Leadership and Healthy Waters.

The luncheon keynote address will be given by reporter and editor, Patricia Cohen, who has worked for the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday and Rolling Stone Magazine. Ms. Cohen published, In Our Prime: The Fascinating History and Surprising Future of Middle Age, a New York Times notable book.

The day will also include breakout sessions with great topics like, Financial Literacy, Sex and Aging, POSLT and End of Life decisions, as well as an update on the Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver. We hope you can join us for this informative, day-long conference!

Participants may register by email, by mail or by fax.  For more information about the conference visit: www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html or call us at 609-421-0206.

  To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998, its mission is promote approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Reverse Mortgage – Things to think over

In the Feb/Mar issue of Renaissance Magazine, NJFA featured an article about Reverse Mortgages. You can see the article (and the whole magazine) at www.njfoundationforaging.org/ren.html 

In the article, NJFA Board Member, Robert Jaworski, who is also an Attorney at Reed Smith in Princeton, covers all the bases for those considering a Reverse mortgage. As with any decision, there are many things to consider when determining if this is right for you.

One issue that has recently come to our attention via a few news articles has to do with married couples. If both parties are not listed on the document there can be difficulty when the person who did sign passes away. It is also important to note that both parties must be 62 or older to be listed on the reverse mortgage documents.

In one such story in the Washington Post recently, a woman in her 90’s was facing foreclosure because of this very issue. Even though both she and her husband were listed on the deed to the home, only her husband’s name and signature appear on the reverse mortgage documents.

It is clear that upon the death of the person who took out the reverse mortgage loan, the debt must be paid. However, the spouse living in the home should be spared that expense. But according to HUD, who oversees the programs, this is not the case if the spouses name does not appear on the documents.

But under a controversial policy that is drawing national scrutiny and at least one major lawsuit, HUD — the agency that runs the reverse mortgage program — now insists that when a spouse dies, and the surviving spouse’s name is not on the loan documents, the full mortgage balance becomes due and payable. If a relative or the surviving spouse cannot purchase the house and pay off the debt, the loan may be subject to a foreclosure sale. HUD’s reverse mortgage program, run through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), has been big business. There were 582,000 loans outstanding nationwide as of November 2011, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which issued a critical evaluation of the program last year. Reverse mortgages are restricted to seniors 62 years or older. The program allows homeowners to tap into equity and pull out money for use in their retirement years. As long as they pay their property taxes and hazard insurance, generally they don’t have to repay any of the money until they move out, die or sell the house.

The policy change on surviving spouses that has snagged a few of the people we’ve read about was not adopted until late 2008, That change has been challenged in a federal lawsuit filed by AARP, the seniors advocacy group. On behalf of two widows and one widower who were threatened with foreclosure, AARP charged that HUD disregarded clear statutory language that allows surviving spouses to remain in their homes even if their name is not on the documents. In an appellate court ruling last month, U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman said that the court was “somewhat puzzled as to how HUD can justify a regulation that seems contrary to the governing statute.”

This post is not intended to scare anyone or to suggest that a reverse mortgage is not a good option for some people, it is merely another fact to consider when looking into a reverse mortgage.

Be sure to question your broker and consider all parties living in the home before signing on the dotted line.

Here are some resources to answer any of your questions:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages;

http://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/reverse_mortgages/;

  • The National Council on Aging

http://www.ncoa.org/calendar-of-events/webinars/reverse-mortgage-use-your.html or (800) 510-0301.                                                

  • NovaDebt

http://www.novadebt.org/housing_counseling.taf or 1-866-472-4557

 And here is a link to the article referenced :

http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130201/entlife/702019968/