Anyone living with a disability, whether it be physical or mental, will be no stranger to overcoming obstacles. But if that obstacle is homeownership, then you’ll be facing a unique set of challenges. Those on social security benefits will be wondering whether they have any chance of securing a loan. Then there’s the fear of whether homeownership will affect those benefits in the future. At a glance, the odds may seem against you. Fortunately, there’s a lot of recourses to help disabled people achieve homeownership. The Federal Fair Housing Act also makes it illegal for a lender to deny you a mortgage because you have a disability. For those on disability who desire homeowner, there is no reason you can’t make it a reality. Read on to see how you can make that happen.
First off, let’s address the question of whether buying a home while on disability payments will affect those benefits. Those on social security are not prohibited from purchasing a home. However, those on SSI benefits need to use some caution. Anyone on SSI is free to buy a home and the land they live on. However, any other property will be counted as an asset. To keep receiving SSI, you can’t have over $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 if married). By contrast, those on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits have no such limit on their assets.
Pre-qualifying for a loan
The first step in applying for a loan is getting pre-qualified. The lender will take a look at your income, debts, and monthly expenses before giving you a number for how much you can expect to borrow. So long as you can demonstrate your ability to repay the loan and meet the lender’s other criteria, you stand a good chance of being approved. Those who are claiming disability benefits will need to provide proof of those benefits. In your application, include a Proof of Income Letter from your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office.
It’s also a good idea to show proof of how long you are guaranteed to keep receiving benefits. In your application, also include a copy of your last Notice of Award Letter. The complete picture you can show of your finances the better chance you have of being approved for a loan.
Assistance programs to help with buying a home
Even if your credit score isn’t perfect and your only source of income is your disability payments, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a loan. There are special mortgages and programs available for those with disabilities and parents buying a home for a disabled child. Some of these programs are also available for able-bodied people who live with a disabled person. For instance, a caregiver who shares a home with their disabled sibling. Look into the following programs to see if they would be a right fit for you:
Fannie Mae Community HomeChoice Program
This is a nation-wide program designed to help low and moderate-income borrowers. Through this program, borrowers can obtain a 30-year lease with an interest rate as low as 3%. Even with a less than perfect credit score you can still obtain a loan through this program. Fannie Mae can also provide you with a loan to make improvements to a home if those improvements are related to your disabling condition.
Section 8 Housing
Many people think Section 8 is only for renters. If you qualify for Section 8 and your local Section 8 office is a part of the homeownership program, you can receive assistance in paying your monthly mortgage.
The Federal Housing Administration can provide insurance on mortgages to lenders who are part of the FHA program. Because the loan is insured, the risks to the lender are mitigated so they can give a lower interest rate.
If you’ve served in the armed forces, then the Department of Veteran Affairs can potentially help you with a grant to buy a home. You needn’t be a combat veteran to be applicable. Anyone who has served in the armed forces (including the National Guard) is applicable so long as they meet its criteria. Read into it to see if you qualify.
Habitat for Humanity
The program exists to help low-income individuals achieve homeownership. It doesn’t specifically focus on disabled homeowners, but they can certainly still qualify. This is done by providing low-interest mortgages ranging from seven to thirty years.
Home for Our Troops
This is a non-profit organization set up to help severely injured veterans become homeowners. It’s only available to those injured after September 11, 2001. To meet its criteria, you must be retired or in the process of doing so. You’ll also have to pass a criminal and credit background check.
Making homeownership a reality
Disabilities make life difficult, but they needn’t exclude you from the chance of being a homeowner. If you’re not already on SSDI, you should check your eligibility as it will be much harder to become a homeowner if you’re only on SSI. Look into the programs above to see if you qualify for any. The sooner you can buy a home the sooner you can start putting your disability payments towards owning a home instead of renting one.