More and more Americans over the age of 65 are facing financial strife that is leading them into late-life debt, according to studies. The paper, “Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society” contends that increased costs for health care, as well as the reduced income that comes with retirement, are weighing heavily on the over-65 demographic here in South Carolina and elsewhere. As a result, older people are becoming increasingly likely to choose Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a viable way to eliminate this debt in their golden years.
In the last several years, older Americans have filed for bankruptcy protection at twice the average rate, and the number of older people entering the bankruptcy system has quintupled. Further studies indicate that the average over-65 bankruptcy filer is carrying debt worth roughly $17,390. What is more, the same studies suggest that if policy changes meant to support seniors and provide a social safety net are not implemented, these numbers will only continue to rise.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy carries unique challenges for retired seniors. Many elderly people view bankruptcy filing as a personal failure and may wait too long to file out of a sense of pride or shame. In these cases, they may burn through accumulated wealth in an effort to stay afloat and, as a result, do not have the time left to recover financially after finally filing. However, it is important to recognize that while it might not be an easy decision, for many people it is a necessary one.
Bankruptcy filing is a valuable tool for any South Carolina individual or family that is overwhelmed by debt. For the elderly, filing earlier rather than later may be their best option to ensure debt-free golden years. The support of an experienced bankruptcy attorney in navigating this process can help elderly people enjoy the years remaining to them without the specter of debt hanging over them.