CUNA Regulatory Comment Call
August 12, 2010
Interim Final Rule: Low-Income Definition
- The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) recently adopted an interim final rule (IFR) to amend § 701.34 of NCUAs regulations, known as the low-income rule.
- The IFR is effective as of August 5, 2010.
- NCUA amended the definition of low-income members to clarify that, in determining a credit unions low-income designation, the comparison of credit union data (whether individual or family data) must utilize statistical data for the same category.
- This means that as of the IFRs effective date, NCUA will no longer consider requests for a low-income designation based on a comparison of actual individual member income data to median family income data.
- Rather, individual member data should be compared to individual median income data and not compared to median family income data.
- The amendment also makes technical changes related to NCUAs use of geo-coding software in determining low-income status.
- NCUA is accepting comments on the IFR through October 4, 2010; please submit your comments to CUNA by September 20.
The Federal Credit Union Act authorizes NCUA to establish regulations to provide credit unions consisting of predominantly low-income members with certain statutory relief and access to the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund. This authority has been implemented in § 701.34 of NCUAs regulations and is referred to as the low- income rule.
In 2008 NCUA made several changes to its low-income rule, these included: replacing median household income with median family income or median earnings for individuals; and eliminating the application requirement for prospective low-income credit unions (LICUs). Rather than requiring credit unions to apply for LICU designation on an individual basis, NCUAs geo-coding software will automatically calculate a credit unions data for LICU status during the credit unions examinations and is currently being implemented.
Specifically, the automated process will involve linking member address information to publicly available information from the Census Bureau to estimate member earnings. The geo-coding software will use member street addresses collected during a credit unions examinations to determine the geographic area and metropolitan area for each member account. NCUA will then use income information for the geographic area from the Census Bureau to estimate each members earnings.
In addition, the 2008 rule established, as an alternative to relying on NCUAs geo-coding software, the option for a credit union to provide actual member income information as a basis for qualifying as a LICU. However, as worded in the 2008 rule, the alternative approach has led to confusion among prospective LICUs. Specifically, according to the 2008 rule, as an alternative a credit union could apply for low-income designation by relying on a comparison of actual income for individual members to statistical data on median family income.
Brief Description of the Interim Final Rule
The IFR amends NCUAs low-income rule to clarify thatas an alternative to relying on NCUAs geo-coding softwarea credit union may assess whether its members qualify as low income by using median family income and median earnings for individuals.
The new low-income member definition includes members:
- (Family income) Whose family income is no more than 80% of the median family income for (1) the metropolitan area where the family lives, or (2) the national metropolitan area, whichever is greater.
- (Individual income) Who earn no more than 80% of the total median earnings of individuals for (1) the metropolitan area where the individual lives, or (2) the national metropolitan area, whichever is greater.
The IFR provides that only like categories of data may be compared in making the determination that a credit unions membership meets the low-income definition. Actual individual member income information should not be measured against median family income, but instead, should be measured against individual median earnings.
As of the IFRs effective date, NCUA will no longer consider requests for a low-income designation based on a comparison of actual individual member income data to median family income data. The IFR is effective as of August 5, 2010. However, NCUA will accept comments on the IFR through October 4, 2010.
Questions to Consider Regarding the Interim Final Rule
- NCUA adopted the IFR in an effort to clarify confusion regarding the language in NCUAs 2008 rule
that permitted a credit union to qualify as a LICU if it could establish that a majority of its members
met a low-income formula. Do you believe the IFR achieves NCUAs stated intent? If not, can you suggest
an alternative approach that would achieve NCUAs intent? Do you believe changes made by the IFR to
the low-income rule were necessary?
- Are there any reasons why NCUA should continue to consider requests for a low-income designation
based on a comparison of actual individual income data to median family income data?
- NCUAs 2008 rule eliminated the requirement that credit unions apply for low-income designation,
and instead provides that such designation will be determined by NCUAs geo-coding software. NCUAs
software is intended to ensure that the same categories of data available for member income at a
particular credit union are compared with like categories of statistical data on income from the Census
Bureau. Do you support this new approach? Why or why not?
- In an effort to prevent further confusion based on the 2008 low-income rule, NCUA adopted this
rule with an immediate effective daterather than with at least a 30-day delay following publication
in the Federal Register. Do you agree with NCUA that an immediate effective date was necessary?
- As an interim final rule, credit unions must comply with the changes upon the rules effective date.
However, NCUA will accept comments on the IFR for a 60-day comment period. Do you agree with NCUAs
decision to adopt this as an IFR? Why or why not?
- Do you have any other comments or questions regarding NCUAs low-income definition IFR?
Eric Richard General Counsel (202) 508-6742 firstname.lastname@example.org |
Mary Mitchell Dunn SVP & Deputy General Counsel (202) 508-6736 email@example.com
Jeffrey Bloch Assistant General Counsel (202) 508-6732 firstname.lastname@example.org
Luke Martone Senior Regulatory Counsel (202) 508-6743 email@example.com