Consumer Bankruptcy

Post-COVID Debt Continues to Grow as Bankruptcy Filings Fall in 2021

Financial analysts had predicted a bankruptcy surge following the COVID-19 pandemic. Courts were closed for the majority of 2020, but as they began to reopen, it was believed that a massive wave of bankruptcy filings would follow. Oddly enough, that surge never came, and the number of consumer bankruptcy filings continue to drop.

According to figures from the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), 181,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in the U.S. by May 2021, which is 29 percent lower than the number of cases filed by that time in 2020. As many people were forced out of jobs or laid off with businesses temporarily or even permanently closing, consumers are continuing to rely on credit cards to cover expenses.

It is reported that consumers wait an average of 22 months after their first 90-days past-due notice before filing for bankruptcy, accumulating what is called ‘shadow debt.’   

Shadow debt is debt that has not shown up yet on the consumer’s credit report, such as unpaid rent, accruing medical bills, and bounced checks. This shadow debt causes a great deal of stress for consumers as they work through the decision to file for bankruptcy. Many consumers report that they seriously struggle with debt for up to two years before making the decision to file.  

Most of this shadow debt is unsecured debt or debt that is not otherwise secured by collateral. Common forms of unsecured shadow debt are past-due credit card bills and medical bills. An ABI study reports that shadow debt can increase on average by $7,200 for each month the consumer delays filing for bankruptcy.  

According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study, consumers owe an average of $240,000 in total debt by the time they actually file for bankruptcy. Therefore, delaying filing for bankruptcy is not always the best decision. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help determine if bankruptcy is the right option for that individual.

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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  

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