More than 15 million people receive Social Security disability income every year. For those relying on this income, qualifying for a mortgage can unfortunately become a challenge when lenders ask for proof of how long they will receive their benefits.
Today, we’re reminding lenders that placing unnecessary documentation requirements on recipients of Social Security disability income, including disabled veterans, may raise fair lending concerns. Following the guidelines and standards noted in the may help lenders comply with fair lending laws.
Difficult to prove your income
Generally, when you apply for a mortgage, you must show to mortgage lenders that you have a stable income. However, those who depend on Social Security disability income usually don’t have any documentation saying how long this income will continue. The Social Security Administration (SSA) normally only provides proof that consumers are currently receiving benefits.
Unfortunately, some consumers have reported that loan officers have asked them for a specific description of their disabilities or a statement from a doctor to prove that their Social Security disability income is likely to continue.
What our rules require
To verify income for Qualified Mortgage debt-to-income ratios, our rules require lenders to look at whether the SSA benefit verification letter or equivalent document includes a defined expiration date for payments. Unless the SSA letter specifically states that benefits will expire within three years of loan origination, lenders should treat the benefits as likely to continue.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a similar standard for documenting income for FHA-insured mortgages, and emphasizes that a lender shouldn’t ask a consumer for documentation or about the nature of his or her disability under any circumstances.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows lenders to use Social Security disability income as qualifying income for VA-guaranteed mortgages and emphasizes that it’s not necessary to obtain a statement from the consumer’s physician about how long a medical condition will last.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued similar guidelines for loans that are eligible for their purchase, allowing consumers to use Social Security disability benefits as qualifying income for a mortgage.
Everyone deserves to qualify based on their income
Persons with disabilities should be able to qualify for mortgages they can afford based on their stable income, including from Social Security disability income. And anyone with disabilities, including disabled servicemembers, should not be prevented or hindered from buying a home by unnecessary barriers or requirements.
Together, these standards and guidelines should help lenders avoid unnecessary documentation requests and help individuals who receive Social Security disability income receive fair and equal access to credit.
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