A greater number of Americans who are 65 years of age and older are filing for bankruptcy. The reasons for this increase in bankruptcy filings are numerous, including the loss of pensions, high medical expenses, and lack of savings. Regardless of the reasons, research is consistently showing that individuals at retirement age of 65 years old or older are three times more likely to file for bankruptcy than this age group in previous years.
One reason for this trend is the instability behind the government safety net that was once there for retirees as they left the work force. Social security was always considered a given, something that would support the retiree throughout their remaining years. Retirees are now having to wait longer to receive their full social security benefits, causing them to struggle to make ends meet until that time.
The pension plans they always considered were a given are now replaced with 401(k) plans, which require self-contribution for them to be successful. Many of these individuals are paying out-of-pocket for medical expenses, and many are being forced into early retirement before they are financially ready to live without a reliable, steady income.
According to Consumer Reports, from February 2013 to November 2016, bankruptcy statistics showed that there were 3.6 bankruptcy filings for every 1,000 individuals between the ages of 65 to 74 years old. This number shows a significant increase from the 1.2 bankruptcy filings for every 1,000 individuals in the same age category in 1991.
Looking at all bankruptcy filings made currently, 12.2 percent of those who filed are older than 65 years old. In 1991, only 2.1 percent of all filings were from individuals older than 65. The problem is the generation following this age group is also filing for bankruptcy in greater numbers. The best explanation for why this is occurring are structural shifts for these generations.
Of the reasons given for why they are filing for personal bankruptcy, these filers are reporting medical debt as a leading cause. The recession of 2008 has also been a leading cause for why these aging filers are facing such difficult financial circumstances. The recession wiped out a great deal of their investments, leaving everyone, including this demographic, leaving them with little money to retire with and a small amount of liquid assets with which to pay medical bills. Lastly, many wives in this generation are outliving their husbands, those in the family who were the main breadwinners and the individuals handling the family finances. Once the husband dies, the surviving spouses may not know how to handle the finances, resulting in decisions that could later lead to bankruptcy court. The notion may seem dated, but in this generation, it is an all-too-common occurrence.
For many, bankruptcy offers a fresh start providing the relief needed from collection proceedings and harassment from debt collectors. But what are the signs that it’s time to file for bankruptcy? Debt collectors can be anything but subtle in their efforts to receive payment on a debt, and this added stress can be too much for an older individual. Filing for bankruptcy puts these efforts to a halt and at the very least gives the individual a chance to breathe and to receive relief from this type of communication. If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida, you can use Florida bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property, social security and retirement savings. In addition, residents are provided unlimited exemptions for homestead, annuities, and the cash surrender value of a life insurance policy.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.