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Study Shows Rise in Elderly People Filing for Bankruptcy

Law Office of Ronald V. De Caprio Aug. 17, 2018

In New York and across the nation, older people are increasingly finding themselves facing overwhelming debt they are unable to repay. At a time when they should be looking forward towards retirement, these problems are causing concern about how they are going to retain their home, keep their property and even survive. While older people will frequently believe negative perceptions about bankruptcy, it is a way to get back on stronger financial ground and move forward with their lives without the everyday worry about bills. For those who are experiencing financial turmoil, it is important to know what steps to take to file.

Studies have indicated that people who are 75 and older have decided to file for bankruptcy at three times the rate when comparing 1991 to 2016. During that same time-frame, there was a 200 percent increase in filings for people age 65 to 74. Part of the issue is the growing number of elderly people in society as a whole as they tend to live longer than they did in the past. But the study shows that this is only a minor part of the financial struggles older people experience.

Given the increase in people 65 and older who are filing for bankruptcy – nearly five times what it was 25 years ago – the change is notable. Although the number of older people who are filing is still modest compared to the rest of the population, more than 12 percent of filings from 2013 to 2016 consisted of people 65 and older. In that same time frame, 3.3 percent were 75 and older. From 1991 to 2016, the overall rise has been 480 percent of people 65 and older who decided to file. There was almost a thousand percent rise for those older than 75. This is a worrisome trend for the future, should the trends continue.

Some factors that are relevant in the filings are a lack of sufficient income for retirement, losing a job, reduction of income and medical expenses. Many of these people spent a minimum of two years fighting to pay their unpaid bills before deciding bankruptcy was a worthwhile alternative. A key for older people who are facing financial turmoil is understanding bankruptcy and removing any stigma of filing.

Whether it is a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, having legal assistance can ease a debtor’s mind and provide advice in moving forward. Calling a law firm experienced in helping people get their debts under control through bankruptcy is the first step. Being well informed can help individuals get a piece of mind as they begin the process to obtain a fresh financial start.