Real estate values boost reverse mortgage benefits

Phone call to lender doubled one senior citizen's monthly income

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DEAR BOB: About five years ago I got a reverse mortgage on my house. It relieved me of a great amount of worry about retirement income, which didn't stretch enough to keep up with inflation. You do a great service to older people like me. But you need to tell us more. When I received my 2003 property tax bill, I realized the market value of my home was nearly $100,000 higher than when I obtained my reverse mortgage. I phoned my reverse mortgage company, Financial Freedom Plan. The result is my monthly reverse mortgage payments to me were more than doubled. I can't tell you how much that additional income means. Please tell all the other senior-citizen reverse mortgage holders out there to keep an eye on what their homes are worth now. – Lucy B. DEAR LUCY: Shame on me for not explaining senior-citizen reverse mortgages can be periodically renegotiated (refinanced) as the market value of the home appreciates. But I'm glad you obtained a reverse mortgage five years ago and are very...