Debt knows no bounds. Anyone can be hit with unexpected expenses, whether they are for medical treatment, to repair much needed transportation, or to make home repairs that are necessary to keep a residence habitable. Although some people are able to dig themselves out debt, others struggle to do so and instead find themselves falling deeper and deeper into a debt spiral.
Sadly, this seems to be happening to more elderly individuals. These individuals are now making up a larger portion of personal bankruptcy filers than in years past. In fact, according to a recent study, elderly individuals now file 12% of all bankruptcy petitions, which is up from 2% in 1991. This means that more than 130,000 individuals over the age of 65 are seeking bankruptcy protection.
There may be a number of factors contributing to this increase in elderly individuals filing for bankruptcy. To start, over the last several decades Baby Boomers have seen their retirements erode away. Pension plans seem to be going by the wayside, trade unions appear to weaken each year, and the volatility of the stock market has threatened other retirement plans. In addition, the cost of medical care continues to rise with Medicare chipping in less and less to help those elderly individuals in need. Some claim that Baby Boomers are less debt adverse than their parents, which may be spurring their struggles with debt, but it is hard to say whether that factor is more powerful than shrinking retirement stability and expanding medical costs.
Regardless of how an elderly individual winds up in debt, he or she doesn’t have to face the day-to-day stress of figuring out how to pay their bills while at the same time maintaining a reasonable standard of living. Instead, they can choose to seek debt relief, which may include Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Certain federal requirements must be met before successful bankruptcy discharge can be attained, though, which is why it is usually best to discuss these matters with a qualified legal professional. One of these advocates may be able to steer an individual toward a path that leads to a fresh financial start free of creditor harassment.