by Peter Neuwirth, FSA, FCA; Barry H. Sacks, J.D., Ph.D.; and Stephen R. Sacks, Ph.D.
This paper examines the effect of using reverse mortgage credit lines to supplement retirement income by two types of retirees that have not been addressed in the previous literature: (1) those whose retirement savings are significantly below those of the mass affluent; and (2) those who are “house rich/cash poor.”
Results of this analysis demonstrate an important contrast with the results of the earlier literature; specifically, the greater percentages of home value, when coordinated with the retirement savings portfolio, resulted in substantially greater percentages of the portfolio that can be drawn.
This paper suggests a new alternative to the 4 percent rule that can guide planners and retirees toward an optimal cash withdrawal strategy. This new rule takes into account the total of the retiree’s retirement savings plus his or her home value.
The quantitative analysis in this paper uses the same spreadsheet models and strategies first presented in the Journal by Sacks and Sacks (2012). This paper builds on that work by extending the analysis to a broader range of retirees.
With retirement, it is important to consider how declining cognitive skills associated with aging will make it increasingly difficult to self-manage your investment and withdrawal decisions. For households where one person handles money matters, surviving household members will be especially vulnerable to making mistakes when they outlive the family financial manager. Developing a strong relationship with a trusted financial planner can help with both of these matters.
In a sign that the time had finally come for the idea of coordinated spending from a reverse mortgage, Harold Evensky, Shaun Pfeiffer, and John Salter of Texas Tech University published two articles—beginning with the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Financial Planning—investigating the role of a standby line of credit. They developed conclusions quite similar to the Sacks brothers without knowing of their work.
Now that we understand how reverse mortgages work, we can go into greater depth on the potential ways an HECM reverse mortgage can be used within a retirement income plan. For now, I want to focus on the big picture categories.