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Kian Bailey
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The Flying Hippo

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Equity Release Mortgages Boosted by Poor Health

There is one way in which the poor health of pensioners can be beneficial to them – equity release. Equity release schemes allow retired homeowners to release cash from their properties. More commonly, equity release mortgages are starting to take into account the medical condition of the person (or persons) applying for the mortgage to determine how much money they can take out of their properties. These enhanced lifetime mortgages are also commonly known as impaired life equity release schemes.

Many equity release providers including Aviva, Just Retirement, More2life and Partnership realize that pensioners with poor health have different needs than pensioners with good health and will therefore need more money to sustain their needs and to enjoy their lives with their family and friends while they are physically still able to do so.

The general rule is that the worse the health of homeowners, the more money they will be able to take out of their properties. Common health issues that are taken into consideration and that might result in a homeowners qualifying for more money include: smoking, diabetes, stroke, angina, cancer, heart attacks and Parkinsonís disease or even just a minor issue such as being on medication. 

In most cases, pensioners are not required to pay the monthly interest but instead it is allowed to be rolled up until the mortgage has been repaid. In most cases, the mortgage is repaid when the homeowner dies or moves into a care facility. At this point the house is usually sold to clear the enhanced equity release mortgage.

Most equity release schemes are calculated based on the life expectancy of the person. A impaired life equity release scheme is based on the logic that poor health will have a direct impact on the life expectancy of the person. However if the person lives longer than is expected, there might be a danger in that the initial advance and the accumulated interest might become more than the value of the property. In order to prevent this, many equity release providers place a maximum loan that is allowed to be borrowed based on the age and the health conditions of the borrower. 


Pre-requisites for illness qualifying equity release

• Any equity release plan that is a lifetime mortgage requires the person to be at least 55 years of age. This impaired equity release also requires the same, unless it is a special circumstance. 

• The lender may request information form the applicants GP. No medical would be involved, however to prove a smoker status the lender could request a nicotine test. This would be to prove that more than 10 cigarettes were being smoked per day.

• The basis of the impairment is usually calculated on the younger life as this normally is the person that will live the longest. However, some lenders will look at both cases & make an underwriting decision based on both parties.

• The home needs to be paid in full before all other mortgages or the money with the new equity release must be used to pay the house mortgage off. If a mortgage still remains on the house, then less money is available to be borrowed and the lifetime mortgage has to be paid first. 


A life impaired equity release is helpful in paying off medical bills or making a person's last years of life more comfortable; however, if there is a spouse there are situations that can make this more difficult. The spouse might have to sell the home to repay the debt or the mortgage might be outstanding during the rest of their life too. In most instances lifetime mortgages can be taken out as a couple and the living spouse has the right to remain in the home. Interest accrues during this period making it important to know all the facts before considering lifetime mortgage.

This option is also only one on the market specifically set up for individuals with life threatening illnesses or medical conditions that warrant enhanced terms. Therefore, even though health maybe suffer due to disability, these ailments are not considered necessarily life threatening & therefore do not affect the enhanced terms available. 

Before taking out this mortgage it might be best to consider if it is the right option based on current research for the health situation a pensioner is in. A younger person may have a chance at a cure from a disease or at least better health management to extend life. Talk to your equity release adviser about the options & potential benefits available due to impairment. Remember these schemes are suitable for those looking for the maximum equity release, or the largest drawdown facility to provide that financial cushion throughout their retirement.

Once all the facts are known about the equity release recommendation, possible outcomes, and the income generated from the lifetime mortgage a decision can be made. It is often helpful for a person to look at all avenues of equity release to understand other options too. The family of the individual looking to take out this mortgage is going to be affected. Making your family a part of the decision is advisable given that they may end up having to help pay for the mortgage due to inheritance loss. 

By having to sell the home, or selling the home with no equity release left, this means your family will not have any inheritance. They may want to be made aware!

With the help of online equity release calculators, pensioners are able to estimate how much money they will be entitled to base on their age and their physical health. Bear in mind that the majority of equity release calculator results do not provide the enhanced lifetime mortgage maximums. They gladly take your details for the standard terms but don’t paint the whole picture. To obtain full results of standard, enhanced & interest only lifetime mortgages then sites such as www.equityreleasecalculator.net are geared towards providing such statistics.

It is always advisable to seek professional financial advice before committing to an equity release scheme like the impaired life equity release plans. There are many factors to account for which without specialist knowledge can leave yourself wide open to making an incorrect & therefore expensive mistake for you & your children.