Medicaid Implications on Reverse Mortgages Are Not Very Clear…

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The Impact of the Deficit Reduction

Act of 2005

BY MICHAEL DAVID SCHULMAN

One major unknown factor concerning reverse mortgages is the impact that the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 will have on them. Because one of the goals of the act is to reduce government spending on Medicaid, it legislates that Medicaid be denied to applicants with more than $500,000 in home equity. As a result, more and more older adults will be required to pay for their own health care. It is expected that the number of reverse mortgages will increase as a result.

The Deficit Reduction Act also requires the state be named as a remainder beneficiary in annuity contracts, presumably to permit states to recover their Medicaid costs. While the details, on a state-by-state basis, have yet to be worked out, it seems clear that many planning situations that would have been solved through the use of an annuity contract (whether issued by an insurance company or a so-called “private annuity”) will need to find an alternative income source. Despite looking like annuities, reverse mortgages are a form of borrowing, so the “remainder to the state” rule referred to above does not apply. Reverse mortgages likely will be used in many of these cases.

Another “not yet determined” aspect of the Deficit Reduction Act and reverse mortgages is who gets the money when the house is sold. Put differently, the lender is in a primary position on a reverse mortgage. However, Medicaid also can put a lien on an older adult’s residence as benefits are paid. What will happen if Medicaid insists on being first? Or, if a Medicaid lien is in effect when an adult wishes to take a reverse mortgage, will Medicaid take a subordinate position to the mortgage lender?

As with any financial product being marketed to older adults, CPAs must take care to protect the client from financial fraud. In general, it is inappropriate to purchase a reverse mortgage – or any investment product – from a “door-to-door” vendor.

Many of these products have extremely high fees, closing costs and interest rates that can trap the unwary homeowner.


Michael David Schulman, CPA/PFS, is the principal of Schulman CPA, Central Valley, N.Y. His e-mail address is michael@schulmancpa.com.

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Posted on October 6, 2007, in Law, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This is a great topic of discussion. I found this article on John Gosselin’s website, Gosselin is a medicaid lawyer that gets reverse mortgage issues.

    Medicaid is an issue in the coming years for the reverse mortgage industry, especially for the reverse mortgage originators that don’t know their products and underwriting well enough. The US government needs to find a way to use the wealth stored in home equity for people’s care, I think we’ll see a much simpler reverse mortgage product like a low interest rate reverse mortgage that’s sold or at least subsidized by the government to get at people’s home equity.

    http://www.gosselinlaw.com/law101/real_estate/Traps_for_the_Wary.html

  2. I agree with you mortgage originators. I had a marathon discussion via comments on another reverse mortgage post, and he simply refused to acknowledge that reverse mortgage products are ‘murky’ when it comes to medicaid and certain tax implications. More to come on this topic.

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