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.

Please click here to read more.  

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.  

Medical Debt

COVID-19 Pandemic Leads to Medical Debt Crisis

Medical debt is a financial stressor for many Americans, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now with the pandemic well into its second year, countless Americans are becoming overwhelmed with medical bills with no end in sight. 

Scientists are studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 on those who contract the virus. Many of them have suffered through several hospital stays, multiple treatments, and several referrals to various specialists. Each of these events, of course, comes with its own set of medical bills. 

According to Credit Karma, medical debt spiked 6.5 percent since the pandemic first hit at the start of 2020, increasing by approximately $2.8 billion. The number of individuals with past due medical debt increased by nine percent during this time, jumping from 19.6 million to 21.4 million.   

Another medical debt survey conducted by Lending Tree found that 60 percent of Americans polled carried some level of medical debt. Fifty-three percent (53%) of them saying that this debt was more than $5,000. Of those surveyed, 72 percent surveyed said that their medical debt has kept them from purchasing a home or having a child in the near future.    

Many consumers have felt forced to rely on credit to pay off their outstanding medical debts caused by a COVID diagnosis. However, paying these debts via credit card only delays payment of what is owed.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit consumers and businesses hard. According to a study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and the W.E. Upton Institute, 7.7 million American workers lost their employee-sponsored health insurance benefits by June 2020, affecting not just the 7.7 million workers but also their 6.9 million dependents. Due to the loss of this insurance coverage, overall cost of medical care has skyrocketed. On top of losing that health insurance coverage, many Americans also lost their job and thus their income source, making paying these high costs nearly impossible.  

Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offset these high medical costs. The bill’s protections provide a short-term solution for those struggling with medical debt. Democratic lawmakers are pushing heavily towards expanding health care and addressing the costs of medical treatment. Some of these efforts have been to reduce the negative effects medical debt has on a person’s credit score. 

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Those who have experienced illness or injury and found themselves overwhelmed with medical debt should contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney. In bankruptcy, medical bills are considered general unsecured debts just like credit cards. This means that medical bills do not receive priority treatment and can easily be discharged in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy laws were created to help people resolve overwhelming debt and gain a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy attorney 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, P.A. 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, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Consumer Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Personal Bankruptcy Filings Drop in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic Relief

Personal bankruptcy filings are down, leaving many financial analysts questioning whether the drop in filings can be attributed to financial relief offered from governmental pandemic relief programs or to other economic factorsThis stimulus relief offered consumers a much-needed financial boost, but the question remains how long this boost will hold off future bankruptcy filings. 

Consumer Bankruptcy, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Small Business Bankruptcy

U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Drop 38 Percent

Bankruptcy filings are on the decline, according to a recent report.  Statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, reveal bankruptcy filings dropped 38.1 percent for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2021. This dramatic drop in filings coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which first disrupted the economy in March 2020.

Bankruptcy filings fell for both personal and business bankruptcies. Non-business filings fell by a total of 38.8 percent, while business filings fell 13.9 percent.

COVID-19, Debt Collection

Debt Collection Lawsuits Pause While One Debt Collector Continues to Pursue Collections

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most debt collectors hit the pause button on collection lawsuits due to widespread national lockdowns. However, one of the largest debt collectors, Sherman Financial Group, continued to pursue its collection efforts. 

According to a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Sherman Financial Group had the largest increase of any debt collection firm between March 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020. The study analyzed filings from five state-court districts from the start of the pandemic to the end of 2020. The number of filings went up by 52 percent from the previous year. In comparison, debt collection filings went down by 24 percent with respect to the industry overall. 

Bankruptcy Law, Business Bankruptcy

The Impact the Coronavirus has had on Bankruptcy Filings in Miami Beach

The economic impact caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been substantial throughout the country, and Miami Beach is not excluded. Countless businesses have been forced to close temporarily and many even permanently. While technically the number of bankruptcies were down at the end of 2020 nationwide, financial experts fear that the number of bankruptcy filings will increase over the next several years.  

While the number of consumer bankruptcies were down nationwide, the number of Chapter 11 business bankruptcies saw an increase of 18.7 percent when compared to 2019. This form of bankruptcy is normally used by businesses that hope to stay in operation through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process that allows them to renegotiate their debts. Several larger businesses, including Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 in 2020.  

Specifically, in Florida, a total of 37,776 bankruptcies were filed in 2020, which is 19.26 percent lower than the 46,786 filed in 2019. Of all the bankruptcy cases filed in 2020, businesses accounted for four percent of these cases. This number may seem small, but business bankruptcies tend to have a significant effect far past the bankruptcy case alone, including the effect these closures and filings have on the individual employees who lost their job as a result.  

Many times, a ripple effect can be seen on other businesses after one or more close.  

According to figures from the U.S. Courts Administrative Office, a total of 7,430 bankruptcies were filed in Miami-Dade County in 2020. This figure is slightly less than the 8,705 filed in 2019.  

While consumer bankruptcies were down in Miami-Dade County, the number of business bankruptcies saw a slight increase. It is reported that 322 Miami area business bankruptcies were filed in 2020, as compared to 215 filed in 2019. Of these cases filed in 2020, 188 of them were filed under Chapter 7, commonly referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. Only 129 Chapter 7 business cases were filed in 2019.  

Miami-Dade County did see an increase in the number of Chapter 11 bankruptcy case filed in 2020. Approximately 120 were filed in 2020, as compared to the 62 filed in 2019.  

Individual consumer bankruptcies in Miami-Dade County did not see the same increase, however. According to court filings, a total of 7,108 non-business consumer bankruptcy cases were filed in 2020, as compared to the 8,490 filed in 2019. Of these cases, 4,841 were Chapter 7 filings and 2,260 were Chapter 13 filings. In comparison, 5,067 Chapter 7 cases were filed while 3,414 Chapter 13 cases were filed in 2019.  

Despite the decrease between 2019 and 2020, financial experts predict these numbers will continue to increase through 2021 and beyond. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more and more businesses and individuals will continue to feel the economic impact of this crisis.  

Please click here to read more.  

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.   

COVID-19, student loan debt

New PPP Loan Rules Make It Easier for Student Loan Borrowers to Obtain Funds

New rules with respect to who can receive financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will open the door for struggling student loan borrowers who have previously been unable to qualify for the PPP loan program. These new regulations took effect on March 1, 2021.  

The funds received through the PPP were meant to offer financial assistance to struggling businesses, allowing them to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the most part, these loans are forgiven later. Previously, any business that was owned 20 percent or more by an individual who had defaulted on his or her student loan payments was considered ineligible for PPP loan assistance. This rule clearly shut out a large group of individuals and businesses who arguably could use the governmental assistance.  

The Biden administration has changed this rule, effective March 1, 2021. A default or delinquency on student loan payments will not automatically disqualify a PPP loan applicant. This change comes along with several others, including priority access for businesses employing 20 or fewer individuals.  

Over the past several years, student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto debt with over 42 million Americans carrying some amount of student loan debt. Of this number, approximately one-third of them are in either delinquency or default on these loans.  

According to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, a large number of these borrowers are self-employed. Approximately 800,000 self-employed Americans are reportedly behind on their student loan payments. Additionally, 500,000 minorities have also be excluded from PPP assistance due to the status of their student loans.   Student loan reform advocates have praised this change, saying that small business owners have been bearing the brunt of the financial struggles suffered during the COVID pandemic.

Please click here to read more.  

For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all 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. 

Business Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Wave of COVID-19 Bankruptcies Hitting U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

As the country nears the one-year mark since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial effects are continuing to have effect on consumers and small businesses. The pandemic forced the shutdown of countless businesses throughout the country, and the expected wave of impending Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases is only now beginning to hit the nation’s legal system.  

According to court records, the number of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings were up by approximately 20 percent, when compared to filings in 2019. These numbers are only expected to grow. 

Certain sectors of the economy have been hit much harder than others. According to figures from New Generation Research, restaurants, retailers, entertainment companies, and real estate firms have filed for bankruptcy protection more now than in previous years. The number of bankruptcy filings made by entertainment companies quadrupled in 2020 alone. The number of filings has tripled for oil and gas companies, while doubling for restaurant owners, retailers, and real estate companies. 

Thus far, more than $3.7 trillion in federal stimulus money has been issued in an effort to help offset the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with this money and the possibility of more coming in the future, many businesses have not been able to survive.  

The true effects of the pandemic may not be seen for several years. After the Great Recession of 2007, the bankruptcies that resulted were not filed until 2010, a few years after the start of the recession 

The widespread shutdowns brought on by COVID-19 have hit the restaurant industry hard, and financial experts worry that they may be the hardest hit from the financial crisis. The route these businesses will take can vary depending on what the businesses owners have decided to do. Many of them have already made the decision to close down completely in lieu of pursuing a business bankruptcy. Others have chosen to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning that their assets will be liquidated and used to pay down the debts, leaving the restaurants permanently closed. 

With so many people working from home, the need for office space has also dropped off dramatically, leading to a drop in real estate values for both retail and office spaces, hitting the real estate sector, as well. 

Some of the larger chain retailers who have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the summer of 2021 include J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, and Lord and Taylor. According to S&P Global, there was an average of two corporate bankruptcy filings per day in the months of June and July.       

Not only have retailers been hit hard but their suppliers have, as well. An example of this is Country Fresh, a supplier of fresh fruit snacks, sides, soups, and salads to convenience stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy mid-February 2021. This filing represents just one of the many suppliers who have been hit hard and are still struggling from the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether more filings will follow as 2021 progresses.   

Please click here to read more.  

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.   

 

COVID-19, Debt Relief, Foreclosures

Biden Extends Ban on Evictions and Foreclosures through March

Shortly after being sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden signed several executive orders. One of these signed orders included extending the ban on evictions and foreclosures for individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

This new order extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) moratorium that was set to expire on January 31, 2021. The CDC’s order first went into effect in September 2020. This new executive order extends the ban for at least an additional two months past the expiration date.

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Debt Relief

Floridians Hope to Receive Relief from Second Round of Stimulus Payments

As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to affect the economy, many have been wondering when another relief package would be passed by Congress. After the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, providing the first source of stimulus payments, consumers have been anticipating a second source of stimulus payments to help during their continuing financial struggles. Fortunately, at the end of December 2020, a second stimulus relief package was passed by Congress and signed by the President, providing them with a sense of reprieve.

As compared the $2 trillion CARES Act passed last March, this second package totals $900 billion. Additionally, while the previous package provided $1,200 per taxpayer, this new bill provides $600 per individual making less than $75,000 annually. The new legislation provides $600 per child, while the previous legislation provided $100 less per child.