The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has received $2.53 million from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to continue counseling older homeowners on the benefits and risks of reverse mortgages through NCOA’s National Reverse Mortgage Counseling Services (RMCS) Network. This effort is being conducted in partnership with the Administration on Aging (AoA). NCOA is one of five HUD-approved counseling intermediaries that provide mandated counseling nationwide to older adults who are considering a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage allows homeowners aged 62-plus to convert a portion of their home equity into cash while they continue to live at home for as long as they want. “As Boomers retire, many will look for solutions to help them remain economically secure and in their own homes,” said James Firman, chief executive officer for NCOA. “Unbiased counseling is essential to keeping them informed about their options when considering a reverse mortgage.” NCOA will use part of the $2.53 million HUD grant to assist Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and state Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) to develop reverse mortgage counseling strategies as part of their overall services and supports for seniors in their area. Additional funds will be used to support new reverse mortgage counseling mandates approved by HUD in September 2010. The first requires that all HUD-approved reverse mortgage counselors provide their clients with NCOA’s 28-page consumer booklet, Use Your Home to Stay at Home. The second mandate requires all reverse mortgage counselors to complete a budget review with clients using NCOA’s Financial Interview Tool (FIT). The tool helps prospective borrowers consider both immediate financial needs and long-term challenges that could make it difficult to stay at home and benefit from a reverse mortgage. Finally, all reverse mortgage counselors must complete a BenefitsCheckUp screening for all clients who have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp is the nation's most comprehensive web-based service to screen for benefits for seniors with limited income and resources. It includes details on more than 2,000 public and private programs to help seniors pay for food, medicine, utilities, and more. Between September and December 2010, reverse mortgage counselors completed 15,467 BenefitsCheckUp screenings and identified unclaimed benefits valued at almost $76 million annually for older adults. “By helping older adults evaluate the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage—plus find other available benefits and programs—our reverse mortgage counseling gives them a more complete picture of what they need to successfully aging in place,” said Barbara Stucki, vice president for Home Equity Initiatives at NCOA. “This grant will further those efforts.” For more information, visit www.ncoa.org.