Resources for Reporters and Interested Professionals

The National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association has compiled statistics and research on aging and retirement topics to assist with your article on reverse mortgages. You can also find background information on reverse mortgages and real stories from older homeowners who have used a reverse mortgage at ReverseMortgage.org, NRMLA’s consumer education website. If you require further assistance, please contact Jenny Werwa, Director of Public Relations, at jwerwa@dworbell.com.


Recent Research
(click on a topic area for links to resources)

Retirement Readiness
Home Equity and Reverse Mortgages
Aging in Place
Retirement Financial Strategies

Retirement Statistics
Media Coverage 
Annual HECM Endorsement Chart 

NRMLA Press Room


Recent Research

Retirement Readiness

2018 Retirement Confidence Survey (April 24, 2018)
Buoyed by a sharp rise in stock prices that left many retirement savers feeling flush, the number of U.S. workers who say they’re confident about their ability to retire comfortably edged up last year. And yet only about half of the workers 55 and up had researched out how much they’ll need to have saved, what their costs will likely be, or how much monthly income they’ll need to cover those bills.

Roadmap to Financial Security: A Framework For Decision-Making in Retirement (March 2018)
Vanguard published a roadmap to financial security that includes a section on housing wealth and the various options for using home equity to finance retirement needs, including reverse mortgages.

Will the Financial Fragility of Retirees Increase?
(February 2018)
Published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, this report suggests that the vast majority of current retirees can weather shocks, such as high medical bills and widowhood. Future retirees, however, face greater risk as most people are not saving enough.

Planning Your Retirement? Expect the Unexpected (February 2018)
This retirement preparedness study from Prudential concluded that 51 percent of retirees left the workforce earlier than planned. This is especially important because the last several years of individuals’ careers are generally considered to be among their top earning years.

The Power of Working Longer (January 2018)
The National Bureau of Economic Research showed that deferring Social Security past the age of 66 by three to six months has the same impact on a person’s retirement standard of living as saving an additional one-percentage point of labor earnings for 30 years.

The Long-Term Impact of Aging on the Federal Budget (January 2018)
Authored by Brookings Institute senior fellow Louise Sheiner, this paper examines the effects of an aging population on federal spending on entitlement programs and the implications for the country’s overall debt burden, interest rates and productivity.

National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI) Shows Modest Improvement (January 2018)
The percentage of working-age U.S. households who are “at risk” of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement fell from 52 percent to 50 percent between 2013 and 2016, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research.

The Precarious Economic Lives of Older Women Workers (December 2017)
The Retirement Equity Lab, part of The New School in New York City, concluded that almost half (48 percent) of older working women without a college degree have low-paying jobs –  earning less than $15 an hour – compared to 29 percent of similarly situated men.

How Much Does Motherhood Cost Women in Social Security Benefits? (November 2017)
Mothers with one child receive 16 percent less in benefits than non-mothers, and each additional child shrinks benefits by another 2 percent, according to a paper from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Shifts in benefit allocations among U.S. employers (July 2017)
U.S. employers cut their contributions to workers’ retirements by a quarter from 2001 to 2015, according to the consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. The decline of traditional defined-benefit pensions, replaced by stingier, 401(k)-style, defined-contribution plans was partly to blame.

Aging Readiness and Competitiveness (ARC) Report (June 2017)
A report from AARP International examined the preparedness levels of 12 nations – Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States – for the profound challenges their societies and economies face as their populations age.

We’ll Live to 100 – How Can We Afford It? (May 2017)
Longer life spans and disappointing investment returns will lead to a $400 trillion retirement-savings shortfall in about three decades, a figure more than five times the size of the global economy, according to the World Economic Forum.

Gallup’s Economy and Personal Finance survey (May 2017)
Nearly two-thirds of American workers say they plan to work past retirement age, but on a part-time basis. However, fewer Americans said they will work full-time and more of them said they will stop working altogether.

2017 Retirement Confidence Survey (March 2017)
Six out of 10 American workers feel very or somewhat confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement, though just 18 percent feel very confident, according to the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates.

Do Households Have a Good Sense of Their Retirement Preparedness? (March 2017)
Almost 60 percent of American households believe they are on track for retirement. But about 20 percent incorrectly think they are prepared, in large part because they do not recognize that their 401(k) savings are inadequate, according to the Center For Retirement Research at Boston College.

Geographic Variation In Spending Among Older American Households (February 2017)
U.S. households between the ages of 65 to 74 spend $15,079 a year (or 45 percent of their total median income) on home and related expenses, such as mortgage payments, property taxes and rents. But this figure can vary depending on location, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

How Retirement is Changing in America (February 2016)
Data from the Urban Land Institute shows that between 1998 and 2012, the share of adults age 65 and older with household debt increased from 30 to 44 percent.

Home Equity and Reverse Mortgages

Optimizing Retirement Income by Integrating Retirement Plans, IRAs, and Home Equity: A Framework for Evaluating Retirement Income Decisions (January 2018)
Reverse mortgages should be one of the tools that retirees and their financial advisers consider on a case-by-case basis when evaluating options for improving retirement security, according to this study published by the Stanford Center on Longevity, in coordination with the Society of Actuaries.

Integrating Home Equity and Retirement Savings through the “Rule of 30.” (October 2017)
Once thought to be a strategy effective only for the mass-affluent, new analysis from attorney and researcher Barry Sacks shows that the “almost-affluent” can also benefit from establishing a reverse mortgage line of credit as early as possible, particularly if they are house rich and cash poor.

Considering Tapping Your Home Equity? Compare Your Options First (August 2017)
Amy Ford, senior director of home equity initiatives and social accountability at the National Council of Aging, explains that if savings, Social Security, and modest retirement income is proving insufficient, consumers may consider the role their home could play in meeting daily living expenses or planning for a secure financial future.

What’s stopping seniors from accessing the wealth stored in their home equity? (March 2017)
Improving reverse mortgage financial literacy, reducing borrowing costs and expanding product options are among a list of recommendations put forth by the Urban Institute to help ease barriers to home equity extraction for retirement planning purposes.

Reducing Reverse Mortgage Default Rates (July 2016)
Ohio State University professors Stephanie Moulton and Donald R. Haurin, and Wei Shi, of Jinan University, propose that recent regulatory changes implemented by HUD could reduce future reverse mortgage tax and insurance technical defaults by as much as 50 percent.

Challenges and Strategies for Financing an Increasingly Long Life (December 2015)
The Society of Actuaries’ Pension Section focuses on how longevity impacts household financial needs in retirement and which strategies can best address these needs, including a reverse mortgage. 

How Home Equity Extraction and Reverse Mortgages Affect the Credit Outcomes of Senior Households (2015)
This paper from the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center examines how the extraction of home equity, including but not limited to equity extracted through reverse mortgages, affects credit outcomes of senior households.

Aging in Place

Profile of Older Americans: 2017 (April 2018)
The Administration on Community Living published its annual summary of the latest Census Bureau data on America’s aging population This is valuable resource for all professionals who are interested in the changing demographics of the 65+ population.

Hanging in the Balance: The High Cost of Long-Term Services and Supports (October 2017)
AARP’s Jean Accius addresses America’s looming long-term care crisis and what needs to be done to help millions of impacted families.

State of the Nation’s Housing (June 2017)
Thanks to advances in health and longevity, 50 million households—one out of every three—will be headed by older adults by 2035, including 16 million households headed by those over age 80, according to this annual report published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Led by Baby Boomers, divorce rates climb for America’s 50+ population (March 2017)
While divorce is less common for younger adults, so-called “gray divorce” is on the rise among U.S. adults aged 50 and older, with the divorce rate doubling since the 1990s, according to the Pew Research Center.

Nationwide Retirement Institute® Survey (October 2016)
Because they live longer, and they claim Social Security benefits early, the following survey conducted by the Nationwide Retirement Institute suggests that women could spend 70 percent of their retirement income on health care costs.

Bipartisan Policy Center Retirement Preparation Checklist (September 2016)
The Bipartisan Policy Center has created this online tool for aging Americans who wish to continue living independently in their homes and communities but need resources to help them plan for retirement, housing and healthcare needs.

Families Caring for an Aging America (September 2016)
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee to examine what is known about the nation’s family caregivers of older adults and to recommend policies to address their needs and help to minimize the barriers they encounter in acting on behalf of an older adult. (The full report is available for purchase)

Care for America’s Seniors: The Value of Home Care (2016)
By 2020, 56 million Americans will be 65 and older. By 2050, that number is projected to reach 84 million. The question becomes, who is going to provide for their care? The Homecare Association of America examined the issue, while compiling interesting statistics on healthcare and aging.

Healthy Aging Begins at Home (May 2016)
Published by the Bipartisan Policy Center, this report that underscores the critical need to better integrate America’s health care and housing systems and recommends reverse mortgages as a possible retirement planning tool.

Retirement Financial Strategies

How to Rescue an Underfunded Retirement (February 2018)
Americans have under-saved and will need more than withdrawals from savings to survive retirement, according to actuary and financial planner Joe Tomlinson. An optimal withdrawal strategy and asset allocation, delaying Social Security, annuitizing, tapping home equity and possibly working longer need to be evaluated.

Seniors Lead the Slowdown in Local Consumer Commerce (July 2017)
This report from JPMorgan Chase found that consumer spending among Americans aged 55 and over fell in 2015 and 2016, which may not bode well for the U.S. economy if the trend continues.

How Has the Shift to 401(k) Plans Affected Retirement Income (March 2017)
 A report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, titled , finds that employer-sponsored defined contribution plans are providing less income today than in the past. Without new policies that auto-enroll workers into retirement plans or expand coverage to workers whose employers do not currently offer plans, future retirees will be much more dependent on Social Security than those in the past. 

Why Don’t (More) Small Businesses Offer Retirement Plans? (February 2017)
The Pew Charitable Trusts surveyed more than 1,600 small and medium-sized business owners and managers and found that employers most often cited expense, limited administrative resources and lack of employee interest as main reasons for not offering retirement plans.

Retirement Statistics

  • The biggest monthly expense for households headed by someone 65 and older — on average $1,322 – was for housing-related expenses, such as property taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs and maintenance and household supplies (2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • In 2016, 55+ households held $10.6 trillion in residential equity (primary residence only), accounting for 67 percent of the $15.8 trillion total equity in primary residences for all U.S. households. (Source: Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances)
  • Social Security provides the bulk (on average 61 percent) of household income for those 75 and older. The median income for households age 75 and older is about $27,000, and the median Social Security income is approximately $17,000. (Source: Government Accountability Office)
  • 28 percent of adult Americans have no emergency savings. (Source: Neighborworks)
  • 45 percent of American adults say their savings would last 3 months or less. (Source: Neighborworks)
  • By 2024, the percentage of civilians over 55 participating in the labor force is expected to reach 22 percent, nearly double what the participation rate was in 1994. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Housing was the greatest expense in dollar terms ($16,219) and as a share of annual expenditures (32.9 percent) for older households. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • A majority of parents are paying for at least some of their adult children’s expenses, and it could be costing them up to $227,000 in retirement savings (Source: NerdWallet)

Media Coverage