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Reverse Mortgage Income Q&A - Ask ARLO™

Hello! I’m ARLO™, your personal guide to navigating the complexities of reverse mortgages, with a special focus on income requirements.

Start by entering your question into the search box below to discover if we’ve already provided answers.  If your query remains unanswered, feel free to submit it—I’m here to provide you with comprehensive, personalized information!


So far 2291 of your questions answered by ARLO™
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Expert Answers You Can Trust!

ARLO™ is moderated by All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. CEO & industry expert Michael G. Branson, with over 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry.

Important Resources on Income Requirements:


Understanding Reverse Mortgage Income Requirements


Answered By Our Experts

Question From Lisa M. on 2/21/2024
Hi Arlo. We were turned down for a reverse mortgage because our social security income wasn't enough, even though our house was paid for. Why is it based on income and not the house?
Expert Answer

HUD continues to use a financial assessment for underwriting loans, employing a residual income method.  This approach is based on the principle that after paying all obligations, borrowers must have sufficient residual cash available each month to live on, or else the loan isn't beneficial.

The required amount of residual income varies depending on where you live and the size of your family.  If, after accounting for all your debts and property charges, you lack the minimum amount of money needed to sustain your living expenses each month, it could lead to a situation where all your equity is depleted without improving your monthly financial situation.

However, there are methods to meet the residual income requirements, and it's advisable to consult with another lender to ensure no possibilities have been overlooked.  The last thing you want is to secure a loan that doesn't truly aid your financial situation. I f it can be beneficial, exploring all options is crucial.

If you'd like to discuss your circumstances with us, we're here to help review your situation. It's possible we may conclude, just as another lender might have, that meeting HUD's requirements isn't feasible, and downsizing could be the best path forward.  Ultimately, the decision is yours.

Question From Virginia F. on 12/29/2023
My home is financed through a USDA loan. Can I get a reverse mortgage?
Question From Lisa B. on 2/07/2022
I own my home no mortgage. I’m 60 and have no retirement income due to cancer bills. My home is my only asset. I receive $36,000 yr. alimony. Which program is best for my situation? This is new to me as I was a homemaker 32yrs. Thanks
Expert Answer

Hello Lisa,

You must be 62 years of age or older to qualify for the HUD HECM reverse mortgage but there are private or proprietary reverse mortgages that will accept younger borrowers that you may want to look into. 

I would suggest that you start by visiting a reverse mortgage calculator like the one on our website at so you can enter your information to see if the funds available to you would be adequate for your needs. 

Your credit may or may not be an issue based on your health issues and it may take some explanations along with some supporting documentation but you may find that the private programs do work for you or that you really need to wait for your 62nd birthday.

Question From Dee T. on 10/02/2021
What is the residual income requirement on a first mortgage?
Expert Answer

Hello Dee,

Reverse mortgages use residual income for approval and it is based on the family size and the area of the country in which the property is located.  When you say “What is the residual requirement on a first mortgage”, are you asking about other loans?  Because most loans do not use a residual income method for qualification purposes. 

The reverse mortgage does because there are no mortgage payments to consider whereas with other traditional loans, the lender must consider the mortgage payments for which you are applying plus the taxes, insurance any other property charges and other debts in your qualification. 

Therefore, the typical qualification method for other loan types is a ratio method whereby the lender uses a percentage of your total income as the determining factor for your qualification for your housing and then a second ratio of your housing and all other debts. 

Each lender and each loan type are different and you should check with the lender you are considering to determine their ratio requirements. 

Question From Jan C. on 2/27/2020
My 95-year-old mother lives in a paid-for house with her thirty-year-old grandson and his family (wife and 2 kids). Would this living arrangement prohibit her from getting a reverse mortgage on her house? Would she have to kick the younger family members out to qualify?
Expert Answer

Hi Jan,

There is no problem with the family members also living in the house, but I do have a few things to forewarn you about.  Firstly, the loan becomes due and payable as soon as the borrower is no longer living in the property as her primary residence. 

With a 95-year-old borrower that may mean that her grandson and family may be in a position in a relatively few years in which they will have to face the decision of what they will do for living quarters. 

If there is any concern at all about mom possibly needing to move to assisted living or if her health is in question, the loan would be called due and payable by the lender and the family living in the home would not stop that action.

Secondly, with the additional family in the home, the qualification is a little tougher.  HUD uses residual income to determine the borrower’s ability to qualify and the family size living in the home is taken into consideration to determine the amount of residual income required for the financial assessment qualification. 

The amount required varies in different areas of the country based on cost of living, but it can make a difference of several hundred dollars of income needed to qualify with 4 more people living in the home. 

If mom’s income is strong and she has no other debts, this may not even be an issue, but you would probably want to know before proceeding.

Question From Sharon W. on 12/13/2019
I bought my home in 2014 for $92,000. I haven’t had it reappraised by neighborhood comps are running about $129,000. I have a USDA/RD direct loan (subsidized) and my interest is only 1% on a 38yr. fixed loan. My taxes and insurance are escrowed. I'm on SSDI at $1017.00 My PITI is $462.00 Money is tight and difficult to get a loan for a car. Would a Reverse Mortgage be beneficial even though I don't have a lot of equity built up? Is an income debt ratio a problem, even though my payments are consistent, and my taxes & insurance have always been paid on time? And, if I do qualify for a RM, could I still escrow my taxes/ins. so they continue to be on time? Thank you.
Expert Answer


You have several issues to consider and I would not want to try to answer them all on a blog.  Lenders must consider what is a beneficial transaction in many states and it may or may not be considered beneficial to refinance a loan with such a low interest rate (even though you would eliminate your payments but I don’t know what your current loan balance is).  The reverse mortgage does require about 50% equity in the property so that may be the answer to everything there – you said you don’t have much equity so you may not be eligible from that standpoint.

There are no debt ratios, but HUD does us “residual income” whereby borrower must have a minimum amount of money left over after paying all obligations to live on each month.  This is how HUD determines qualification.  Your payment history being on time is great and that helps if all the other things I discussed previously are ok.

There is no “escrow account” with the reverse mortgage but there are Life Expectancy Set Aside (LESA) required at times.  The LESA is money set aside from the reverse mortgage to pay the taxes and insurance for the life of the loan.  It’s set aside because there are no payments made on a reverse mortgage and therefore, nothing being collected to make those payments.  If you were required to have the LESA account, that would take care of the need to pay your taxes and insurance, but it would mean less money available for you and if you already do not have much equity, it would probably mean this is not the right loan for you. 

However, I would encourage you to visit our online calculator at to see if the amounts available to you under the HUD program would work for you based on your age, the property value and the amount you owe.  If that looks promising, you can then decide if you would like to discuss your circumstances further with a loan officer to see if this is a good option for you.

Question From Josie S. on 6/12/2019
My borrowers receive rents on the 4 Plex- 1 unit is primary the other three are rented, they do not file tax returns but I have current leases, can I use this as effective income?
Expert Answer

Hello Josie,

No one needs to see your renters’ tax returns.  The lender will need to request your returns to assess the income and expenses you have for the property but no lender should ever ask for documentation That does not pertain to the property or you personally.

Question From Carolyn W. on 10/11/2018
My husband and I are thinking about a reverse mortgage. Can my daughter and grandson also live there. Is that ok.I was told not to tell the appraiser that anyone lives with us, why?
Expert Answer

Hello Carolyn,

HUD uses a residual income method to qualify borrowers.  The residual requirement is higher depending on how many people are living in the home.  Utilities, food, and all living costs are higher for 4 people than for 2.  Yes, you absolutely can have your daughter and grandson living in the home with you, but the amount of income under the HUD financial assessment guidelines required to qualify for a family of 4 is higher than for a family of 2.  The lender should not have told you not to say anything to the appraiser, that indicates that they may not have been truthful on your loan application.  It is ok to have someone there temporarily and you do not have to claim them as permanent occupants, but if they live in the home permanently, you should be listing them as occupants and the originator should be working to make sur that you qualify legitimately under the HUD rules.

Question From Bonnie B. on 7/17/2018
What are the financial requirements to qualify?
Expert Answer

Hi Bonnie,

In 2014 HUD announced the final version of their financial assessment guidelines which they implemented in 2015. Borrowers have had to meet income and credit criteria since that time.  Since the HUD manual dealing with this subject is many pages long and would be very difficult for us to cover in a blog post, I will link to that information here.

But I will tell you borrowers have to show overall fair credit with an emphasis on the past two years - especially on the payments dealing with the obligations of the home (mortgages, taxes, insurance, HOA dues, etc). Borrowers have to have minimum disposable income after all debts are paid and the amount is determined by the household size and the area of the country and how expensive it is to live there.

The required amounts are not great and borrowers who do not meet the residual income requirements should seriously consider whether or not this is the right loan for them as they would still be unable to live in the home comfortably even with the loan.

And you can always visit our website to see if the loan would be right for you. There is no cost,  pressure or obligation.  Check it out at

Question From Donna M. on 6/03/2018
My husband just passed away recently, we still owe on the home. I am 67 and cab not work due to heart issues. Can I get a reverse mortgage?
Expert Answer

Hi Donna,

There are financial assessment requirements but they are not really difficult to meet. If you cannot, you would not in all likelihood be able to pay your taxes and insurance and still be able to live comfortably in the home even with the reverse mortgage.  Please feel free to visit my calculator here and you can get a free no obligation proposal to see if the loan will work for you.

Question From Jo G. on 5/20/2018
I am 73. I (and multiple other homeowners) are being bought out by the builder of my home which I bought in 2015 and being offered a new home, which I would very much like to buy. Here's the problem: My income is partially royalty income from a book I wrote a few years ago. Because that income is declining, traditional lenders will not include it in my qualifying income for the new purchase. Here are the facts: I have excellent credit. The cost of the new home is 556,000. I will be putting 344,000 down. I am looking for a loan of 212,000. My non arguable (retirement + SSA) income is 44,000 per year. (My non-countable royalty income was $25,000 in 2017, and definitely declining. It looks like it will be about $20,000 in 2018). The property tax on the new home will be approx. 9,000 a year. The insurance is about 800 a year. The HOA dues are about 4,000 a year. I will have about $70,000 in the bank as a backup. Can I qualify for one of your reverse mortgage loans? If I am understanding your website, reverse mortgages can be used to purchase new homes. Thank you so much for your help, Jo
Expert Answer

Hi Jo,

FHA Reverse mortgages use a residual income method to qualify borrowers – not a ratio method.  If your credit is good, the financial assessment will look at your monthly income and work backward to determine your eligibility as long after all your debts are paid, you have sufficient residual income on a monthly basis.  So let’s look at what you have given me.  $44,000 per year is $3,667 per month all by itself.  Property tax of $9,000 is $750 per month taking you down to $2,917 per month.  Insurance of $800 per month is $67.00 per month which takes you down to $2850.00.  $4,000 HOA Dues are $333.00 per month or now you are down to $2517.00 per month.  HUD uses a utility factor of $.14 (fourteen cents) per square foot so if your new home is 25oo square feet, that amount for utilities will be $350.00 per month bringing you down to $2,167 per month residual income left over after all your housing costs are paid.

Now if you have any other debts that you pay monthly (car payments or credit cards, etc), those amounts would also have to be subtracted from the $2,167 that you have left so far.  HUD has different residual income requirements in different parts of the country (it’s more expensive to live in CA or NY than in FL or TX), but as long as a single person has at least $590.00 per month residual income after all debts are paid and it’s a little under a $1,000 per month for a family of two.   If you only have the obligations you listed above, then you will qualify quite nicely and you don’t even need that royalty income to qualify.

Please feel free to visit me on my calculator at and I will be happy to show you just what you can qualify for.  It’s quick and easy and we close many reverse mortgage purchases every month.

Question From Joyce S. on 11/04/2017
Is there a limit set on your personal financial worth?
Expert Answer

Hi Joyce,

The HUD HECM is a loan, not a government grant program.  There are financial assessment guidelines to be certain that borrowers can still afford to pay the taxes and insurance once the loan is in place (not paying them is a default under the program and HUD does not want the loans to default).  There is no maximum borrowers can make or maximum net worth borrowers may have since this is not a needs-based program. 

Question From Julie C. on 6/20/2017
If I take out a reverse mortgage on my current home, paying off the conventional loan and leaving me with no mortgage payments, could I then qualify to purchase a second home using a conventional loan as if I had no mortgage payment on my credit report. I cannot qualify on my income to support 2 conventional mortgage payments at the same time, but I could afford the one with the proceeds from the reverse mortgage as my down payment.
Expert Answer

Hi Julie,

Your question is not for us but for a conventional mortgage lender.  The question has nothing to do with the reverse mortgage and everything to do with qualification for a second home on a traditional loan (which we do none of working solely with reverse mortgages).  And since I have not originated a forward loan in more than 10 years now, I would not be much of a qualified source to answer your question on what you can and cannot do on that loan.

I would think that they would have to use the taxes and insurance you have to pay on the primary residence even though there is no mortgage payment to determine whether or not you qualify with whatever mortgage payment and other obligations there are on that property, but I would not think they would use any kind of minimum payment even though there is no payment on the loan itself.   However, as I stated to begin with, I could not make this statement as fact and would suggest you contact a lender who would make this type of loan.

Question From Leroy on 1/17/2017
What are the requirement such as credit scores, etc to qualify?
Expert Answer

Hello Leroy,

We really don't have a minimum credit score requirement but we will be looking at your last 24 month credit history to make sure that there aren't any serious delinquencies such as late payments on your property taxes, credit card debts or mortgage obligations. If there are those problems present we would present you with an updated proposal including what's called a LESA - (Life expectancy set aside). This is an account we use to maintain your property taxes and homeowners insurance should you not meet the minimum credit standards for the program. As far as income you will be required to meet a minimum residual income requirements set forth by the FHA. It's not a full debt to income ratio type qualification but more of an ability to maintain taxes and insurance for your expected lifetime. You can learn more about the residual income requirements here.

Question From Annie Hudson-Mcknight on 8/22/2014
Hello, My husband and I are retirees ages 66 and 67 running a home based business. We have a mortgage with a principal balance of $435,897.92 according to a recent statement from our loan servicer. The interest on our loan is 2.0% with a monthly payment of $1912.83. This is a loan modification arrangement under the Making Home Affordable Act that reduced our interest rate from 5% and lowered our payment from $3300 per month.Our combined Social Security Income is $32,000 plus net business income of about $40,000 per year. My husband was diagnosed with cancer in January 2014 and is likely only to survive for several months. Upon his death my only income will be his social security and business income for possibly only a few more years. I'm wondering if I can get a reverse mortgage and eliminate making mortgage payments and receive income?
Expert Answer

Hello Annie,

I can't really give you a full proposal without knowing all the parameters, but under the best of circumstances, running the information that you have given me tells me that the reverse mortgage would still leave you at least $87,500 short to pay off your current mortgage, and that is assuming a value of $625,500 or more and that your 67th birthday will fall within 180 days of the anticipated closing date.  If your value is $625,500 or greater and you think bringing in this much money is an option and want to discuss the programs, please let us know.  You might also contact your current lender and ask if there are any options for a lower payoff under the circumstances.

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Author Michael Branson
About the Author, Michael G. Branson |
Michael G. Branson CEO, All Reverse Mortgage, Inc. and moderator of ARLO™ has 45 years of experience in the mortgage banking industry. He has devoted the past 19 years to reverse mortgages exclusively.
Reverse Mortgage Income Q&A – Ask ARLO™
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