We moved. Do we qualify for the Senior Freeze?

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Q. My husband and I, both over 65, recently sold our primary residence of 40 years. We then moved into our second home at the Jersey Shore, which then became our primary residence. Since retiring, our income qualifies us for the Senior Freeze, but does the fact that we have only lived in this home full-time for several months disqualify us?
— Moving

A. Congratulations on your move.

But unfortunately, you’re correct. You’re not eligible for the Senior Freeze yet.

The Senior Freeze is a benefit that is available for those age 65 or older or residents who are receiving federal Social Security Disability benefit payments as of Dec. 31, 2019, said Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.

She said there are a number of factors that must be met in order to qualify for the Senior Freeze.

“Age and income are two of them, but how long you’ve lived in your residence or mobile home also matters,” she said. “As a rule, there is a three-year residency requirement.”

Generally, in order to be eligible, you must have moved into your second home prior to Dec. 31, 2016, she said.

The additional requirements for apply for the Senior Freeze include:
· Being a continuous resident of New Jersey for at least the last 10 years, as either a homeowner or a renter;
· Property tax payments must be up-to-date, and;
· The total annual income limit for 2019 is $91,505 and for 2020 it is $92,969. This limit applies regardless of your marital or civil union status so long as you both lived in the same household as of Dec. 31, she said.

However, like many rules there are exceptions, but based on the background you provided, it may not be applicable, Mott said.

“When a New Jersey resident moves from one location to another, they may be able to resume eligibility if a reimbursement was received for the last full year in the previous dwelling,” she said. “For the 2020 applications that are now being accepted, this would mean being eligible for a 2016 reimbursement if you moved in 2017 or a 2017 reimbursement if you moved in 2018.”

If your move took place in late 2020 or early 2021 and you had not previously qualified for a Senior Freeze reimbursement, the clock has just started on the three-year residency requirement, she said.

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This story was originally published on April 22, 2021.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.