Individuals who suffer from mental or physical disabilities often suffer a number of challenges. In addition to health conditions, financial and personal issues can take their toll. Discrimination in the workforce or the housing market can also make life more difficult. A recent case demonstrates that those with disabilities continue to face systematic discrimination, even when protected by federal laws.
This week, Bank of America settled with the Department of Justice after being accused of discriminating against mortgage applicants with disabilities. A government probe uncovered that the bank imposed additional burdens on borrowers in California and nationwide, who relied on Social Security disability insurance income to qualify for a home loan.
Reports indicated that in addition to standard loan application credentials, the bank also demanded that those with disabilities provide letters from their doctors to document income. According to the Justice Department, the activity is in violation of the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act, according to the Justice Department. The Justice Department has clearly stated that loan applicants with disabilities should not be subject to invasive requests for medical information when they are applying for credit.
Though Bank of America has not admitted any wrongdoing, it has agreed to review 25,000 applications and will be making payments between $1,000 and $5,000 to eligible loan applicants who were illegally asked to provide doctors' letters. The bank has also agreed to pursue an additional internal inquiry to identify additional wronged applicants and to improve training of underwriters and loan officers. The bank has previously been charged with discrimination by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Borrowers who filed the original three complaints with the HUD will receive a total of $125,000 in compensation.
An experienced advocate can review your case and help you assert your rights if you are collecting Social Security disability and have suffered discrimination or need assistance with benefits.
Source: Reuters, "BofA settles U.S. probe related to disabled borrowers," Rick Rothacker and Jonathan Stempel, Sept. 13, 2012