Yes, hard to believe the Bank the everyone loves to hate could go much lower in the estimation of the public, but according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Bank of America (or BOA as I like to call it in honor of the Boa constrictor that will squeeze its prey to death before eating them) imposed "unnecessary and burdensome requirements" on any borrower who relied on disability income, such as myself and my wife (fortunately we do not have our mortgage with BOA). Here' the story from Reuters:
HUD alleged the second-largest U.S. bank by assets imposed "unnecessary and burdensome requirements" on borrowers who relied on disability income to qualify for their mortgages. The charge, now being handled by the Justice Department, is based on complaints by two borrowers in the state of Michigan and one in Wisconsin. [...]
HUD alleged that Bank of America asked some borrowers for proof of their disabilities and requested information about their Social Security income before approving the loans, which were initially denied.
Now anyone who has ever had to apply for disability benefits, whether from a private insurance company or from the Social Security Disability office, then you know how they very frequently put disabled people through the wringer six ways to Sunday, before (after often spending months refusing benefits and requiring a lengthy appeal process) finally granting you the disability income you are owed. So having to prove you are disabled all over again to a f**king bank is beyond the pale. At least in my book. It's also illegal.
Under the Fair Housing Act, a lender may not "[s]et different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan" for anyone who is disabled. Specifically the law states that:
Sec. 805. [42 U.S.C. 3605] Discrimination in Residential Real Estate-Related TransactionsObviously, requiring someone to prove they are disabled after they have already been granted disability benefits is exactly the sort of discriminatory lending practice the law was intended to prohibit. No doubt BOA intended to set up these barriers in order to discourage borrowers from obtaining loans from BOA. No doubt many disabled borrowers when confronted with these additional obstacles to obtaining a mortgage loan looked elsewhere for the mortgage rather than file an appeal. Indeed, I suspect many disabled people are not even aware that the Fair Housing Act prohibits these burdensome types of loan underwriting practices by banks. The fact the the Justice Department is now involved in these cases ought to tell you everything you need to know about what their prosecutors think about the likelihood of success on the merits. In general, the DOJ doesn't prosecute fair housing act cases unless they are fairly certain that they have a slam dunk.
(a) In General.--It shall be unlawful for any person or other entity whose business
includes engaging in residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap [i.e., disability], familial status, or national origin.
Still, I suppose there is still time for BOA to settle for a small slap on the wrist, so people with disabilities (and anyone else for that matter) be forewarned. Take your banking elsewhere. Bank of America is scum.