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Personal Loans for Retirees

By Timothy Moore · December 26, 2023 · 8 minute read

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Personal Loans for Retirees

Whether you’re buying a house or a car, financing a wedding or vacation, embarking on a major home renovation, paying for rising medical costs, or even consolidating debt, you might need to take out a loan.

But what about when you’re retired?

Even though they don’t earn a traditional income from a paying job, retirees can still take out loans. Requirements for retirees to secure a loan might be a little stricter, but it’s certainly possible.

Below, we’ll dive into loans for retired people — how they work, common types, and where to find them.

What Are Retiree Loans?

A retiree loan is any loan that you take out in retirement. It doesn’t refer to one specific type of loan, but rather a collection of loan types available to anyone in retirement, as long as they qualify.

Qualifying for a loan as a retiree can be more challenging than someone who is still employed full-time, since lenders like to see steady income. But many retirees have reliable sources of income outside of a job that can help them qualify.


💡 Quick Tip: Some personal loan lenders can release your funds as quickly as the same day your loan is approved.

Considerations for a Loan

When considering loans for retired individuals, lenders may consider a number of income sources, as well as an applicant’s debt-to-income ratio and credit score.

Retirement Income

One of the main sources of income for seniors who no longer work is their retirement accounts. If you are retired, you might receive regular payments from an IRA, 401(k), pension, and/or Social Security.

Collectively, these accounts make up your retirement income. And they may be significant enough to take out a retiree loan, like a personal loan, car loan, or even a mortgage.

Fixed Income

Retirees may have other sources of fixed income beyond their retirement income. For example, retirees might earn income from investments, earn annuity income, or receive spousal or survivor’s benefits. Retirees may also generate revenue from rental properties.

If any of these are limited sources of income — that is, they’ll run out eventually — the lender might require proof that you’ll at least receive that income for a set number of years. Without that proof, they might not factor in that source of income when determining loan eligibility.

Some retirees continue to work, whether full- or part-time or even as a contractor. If you’ve taken up a side hustle, like driving for a rideshare service or acting as a consultant in the field from which you retired, your 1099 income may also help when applying for a loan in retirement.

Assets

Retirees who have a significant portion of their money tied up in assets may be able to leverage those assets to secure a loan. For example, mortgage lenders might offer a securities-backed loan.

Securities-backed loans offer retirees liquidity without selling their assets. Instead, the lender can claim ownership of your assets — stocks, bonds, and real estate, for instance — if you default on your loan.

Because investment values fluctuate, a lender will likely consider only a reduced value of your assets (up to 70%). This protects them in the event that your assets decrease in value during the life of the loan.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Lenders consider more than just your income when you apply for a loan, especially in retirement. They’ll also look at your debt — and thus your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

Your debt-to-income ratio is a calculation of all your monthly debts divided by your gross monthly income. This might include credit card debt, mortgage payments, car loans, personal loans, and even student loans.

For example, if your monthly debts total $2,000 and your monthly income is $10,000, your DTI ratio is 2,000 / 10,000. That’s 0.20, or 20%.

The higher your DTI ratio, the less likely a lender is to approve you for a loan. While requirements will vary by lender and the type of loan you’re applying for, you’ll likely have a harder time securing a loan if your debt-to-income is 50% or higher.

Credit Score

As with any other loan, lenders will also factor in your credit score when you apply for a retiree loan. By improving your credit score, you increase your chances of getting a loan.

So what affects your credit score? Generally, five key factors can influence your rating:

•   Credit utilization

•   Payment history

•   Credit history length

•   Credit mix

•   New credit

Retirees generally have longer credit histories, especially if they keep credit cards open and have been paying a mortgage for decades. By paying your bills on time, keeping your credit usage down, and resisting the temptation to apply for new credit cards, retirees may be able to raise their credit scores ahead of applying for a larger loan in retirement.

Where to Find a Retiree Loan

Retirees can look for loans in the same places that other borrowers do. Financial institutions like banks and credit unions generally offer a wide range of loans, from mortgages and car loans to personal loans and debt consolidation loans. Your own bank or credit union is a good place to start.

Where you get a retiree loan can also depend on the type of loan. For example, if you’re purchasing a new car, the dealership may help you find financing. When you work with a real estate agent to buy a home, they might put you in touch with a lender.

Common Retiree Loans

Retirees have access to a wide range of loans depending on their needs. Here are some of the most common types of retiree loans you might come across:

Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan allows you to borrow against the equity you’ve built in your house. You generally need to have paid off at least 15% to 20% of your home to have enough equity for a loan; the more you’ve paid off, the larger the loan could be.

You might use a home equity loan to fund a renovation project, medical payments, or even debt consolidation. But remember, your house serves as collateral, so it’s important to make your payments.

Reverse Mortgage Loan

Reverse mortgage loans are available to people who are 62 or older who have paid off most of their mortgage or own their homes outright. When you get a reverse mortgage, you retain the title to the home and don’t have to pay the loan (and interest) until the last surviving borrower has moved out permanently.

Reverse mortgage loans are not for everyone. Weigh the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage before moving forward.

Debt Consolidation Loan

Retirees who are struggling with various debts may choose to consolidate in a single loan, ideally at a lower interest rate. Consolidating your debt means only a single monthly payment, but it could extend the number of years it’ll take you to be debt-free.


💡 Quick Tip: Swap high-interest debt for a lower-interest loan, and save money on your monthly payments. Find out why SoFi credit card consolidation loans are so popular.

401(k) Loan

If you’re strapped for cash ahead of retirement, you may be able to borrow from your 401(k) account balance before you start receiving distributions. Doing so has certain tax implications to review with your accountant.

Unfortunately, you cannot take out an IRA loan, though if you’re 59 ½ or older, you may be able to make early withdrawals penalty-free.

Personal Loan

You can take out a personal loan for almost anything — wedding costs, home improvements, even credit card debt consolidation. Personal loan interest rates and terms vary depending on the length of the loan. For example, SoFi offers personal loans with low interest rates, and there are no fees required.

Just make sure you have the right credit score for a personal loan before applying. Bad credit borrowers may qualify, but the interest rates can be significantly higher.

Payday Loan

Seniors in retirement may also take out payday loans in an emergency, but keep in mind that there are a lot of risks with payday loans, including high costs.

Requirements for Getting a Personal Loan as a Senior Citizen

Lenders have similar requirements for all applicants, including retirees. The notable difference is that your sources of income will be different from an employed individual receiving a steady paycheck.

Here’s what lenders will generally look for when deciding to approve your loan application:

•   Your sources of income (retirement distributions, Social Security, investment revenue, part-time work, etc.)

•   Age (some lenders may not give out loans to borrowers who are 75 or older)

•   Credit score

•   Debt-to-income ratio

•   Collateral or assets

The Takeaway

Retiree loans refers to any loan you take out in retirement. Depending on your needs and financial goals, it may make sense to apply for a personal loan, home equity loan, 401(k) loan, debt consolidation loan, or other loan type. Retiree loan requirements are similar to those of any other borrower; you’ll just have to demonstrate other sources of income since you’re no longer employed full-time.

You’ll also need a low debt-to-income ratio and a high credit score.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

What are retiree loans?

Retiree loans are any type of loan you get in retirement. Retirees may take out personal loans, mortgages or reverse mortgages, home equity loans, and even debt consolidation loans.

What are the requirements for a retiree loan?

Requirements for a retiree loan are similar to those of other borrowers. Lenders will need to see all your sources of income, and you’ll also need a low debt-to-income ratio (generally below 50%) and high credit score (requirements vary by type of loan). You’ll also need assets to back up a secured loan.

Where can I get a retiree loan?

Retirees can look for loans anywhere that other borrowers might apply for a loan. Common retiree loans include home equity loans, 401(k) loans, debt consolidation loans, and personal loans. Because retirees typically no longer have a traditional source of income (i.e., a paying job), they may have to meet additional requirements to qualify for a loan.


Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

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Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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