Reverse Mortgages: 3 Ways You Can Tap Home Equity to Enhance Your Retirement

By Gerri Detweiler

You may have heard of reverse mortgages as a way for seniors to tap the equity in their homes to pay for living expenses, but there are other ways that homeowners are using their homes to get by.

Many seniors are on fixed incomes, with Social Security payments providing a significant portion of their monthly income. In fact, Social Security provided at least half of total income for more than half of aged couples and nearly three-quarters of non-married beneficiaries in 2010. And it provided 90 percent or more of income for 23 percent of aged beneficiary couples and 46% of aged nonmarried beneficiaries. The average monthly benefit at the beginning of 2012 was $1230. It's no surprise, then, that reverse mortgages are often used to help cover essential living expenses.

What you may not have heard, though, are some of the creative ways homeowners are using reverse mortgages to help them navigate today's challenging economy.