Seniors Pile Up Mortgage Debt: CFPB

Mortgage debt held by the elderly has soared over the past decade, driven in part by the foreclosure crisis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a report Wednesday.

Seniors "put themselves at risk of losing their nest eggs and their homes" by carrying high levels of debt into retirement, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a press release that accompanied the report.

The bureau's Office for Older Americans found that the percentage of homeowners 65 and older with mortgage debt rose to 30% in 2011 from 22% in 2001. Median balances increased during the same period, to $79,000 from $43,000.

The study pointed to the financial crisis as a primary driver of the debt levels. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of homeowners between 65 and 75 years old who were "seriously delinquent," or more than 90 days late on their payments, jumped to 4.96% from 0.85%. The delinquency rate increased to 5.87% from 1.01% for homeowners 75 and older.

One-third of the bureau's complaints from the elderly deal with mortgage payments or loan servicing issues, the report said.

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