I am 87 and received a HECM Loan, maximum claim $250,000 on June, 2006. Credit limit due to age and other factors was due to reach maximum claim in 2012.Withdrawals were denied beginning in June 2010, when the balance was around $225,000 and no withdrawals have been allowed since the servicer has been getting compound interest each month and HUD has been accessing fees and premiums. Correspondence with the servicer and HUD got a big SORRY. Maybe I’m delusional, but something doesn’t add up here. Am I wrong?

Without seeing your closing documents or even your Loan Comparison Page, I can only guess at what is going on here but let me take a stab at it and if this does not seem to come anywhere near your circumstances, please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to go over your individual information with you.

Firstly, there are a lot of terms with a reverse mortgage that are not like or even used in a standard or forward mortgage.

I see that you use the term “Maximum Claim” and give a figure of $250,000.

The Maximum Claim on the reverse mortgage in 2020 would have been the lower of the property value or the HUD lending limit, not the maximum amount you can borrow.

This limit is under a temporary increase to $756,600 at this time that was put in place under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and has been extended until the end of 2013 and will revert to $417,000 at that time if it is not extended again.

If you had a Maximum Claim of $250,000 at the time you took out your reverse mortgage, that would mean that your property either appraised for that amount or that was the HUD maximum for your area at the time.

This is the amount that the lender then uses to determine your benefit amount.

What is the Principal Lending Limit?

The benefit amount is also known as the Principal Lending Limit and this is the amount you receive based on your parameters and from this Principal Lending Limit, you would subtract any mortgage or other liens you had to pay off, any costs you incurred for the loan and the remaining funds would be available for you to take as a lump sum, as a monthly distribution, to leave in a line of credit and take as you desire or as a combination of any or all of those options.

Depending on how quickly you used the loan available to you in the early stages, the balance available to you grew over time on the unused portion.

This growth of the line is what allowed you to ultimately borrow more total dollars than if you had borrowed all your available funds all at one time…although even with growth in the line of credit, you may not be able borrow all the way to your Maximum Claim Amount.

Just for the record though, I have seen several simulators where the funds available to the borrower actually exceeded the original  maximum claim amount but that was in the case of borrowers who had no liens to pay off and allowed the line to grow for 6 to 7 years with no draws whatsoever.

Current Principal Lending Limits

2020's Reverse Mortgage Principal Limit Factors

Age of BorrowerPrincipal Limit FactorCurrent Lending Limit
*Principal Limit Factors taken from HUD.gov using example expected rate of 3.76%. You must deduct closing costs and upfront insurance (approx. 3%) to arrive at your NET principal limit.
PLF tables source: https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/august2017plftables.xls

The amortization schedule you received with your loan when you first signed your documents would have shown you how long the line would last and how the balance would rise, but only if you advised your lender how much you planned to draw yearly so they could run that number for you.

Otherwise, the system cannot account for draws and numbers about which it has no information.

So without knowing how much you owe on current liens at the time and how much you drew from the loan annually, I could not give you a helpful comment on whether or not it is realistic that there would be any money left on the original line.

However, I may be able to offer a ray of hope.  As I told you, HUD has raised the Lending Limit (or Maximum Claim Amount) to a current limit of $765,600.

I don’t know the value of your home currently, but many houses are again seeing some appreciation currently.

Especially if your home was worth more than the Maximum Claim Amount at the time you did your first loan, you may be an ideal candidate for a HECM to HECM refinance.  If you did a loan with a monthly servicing fee, you could eliminate that as well.

Refinance Eligibility 

For you to be eligible, HUD requires that you must receive a minimum of 5 times the cost of the loan in new benefits with the new loan.

You do not have to re-pay any mortgage insurance premium that you have already paid, so if your property is worth more now or if you did receive  lower benefit before due to the HUD lending limits in different areas, you may qualify for a refinance at reduced costs and you may be able to get more benefits that way.

If you live in an area where the third-party costs are about $3,000, and your additional mortgage insurance premium runs another $2,000 based on the increase, you would need to net at least $25,000 from the new loan to be eligible.

It will not work for all borrowers and the 5 times rule is a bit tougher for a reason.

That way people will not try to get seniors to refinance loans for just a very small return.

But this may work for you and you may want to investigate it.

If you decide to check into it, you can speak to a reverse mortgage specialist who can look up property values in your area, look at your most recent statement and see if a refinance is a possibility for you.

Also See: HUD’s 12 Month 60% Disbursement Limit Explained