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More Elder Americans Are Filing Bankruptcy

October 27, 2010

A recent study by the University of Michigan School of Law has found that an increasing number of people over the age of 65 are filing for bankruptcy protection.  The study states that even before the financial meltdown of 2008, the percentage of older Americans filing bankruptcy had risen steadily, from 2 percent in 1991 to 4 percent in 2001 to 7 percent in 2007.


The reasons for these older people filing bankruptcy are varied, but the study found that “the dominant force appears to be overwhelming burdens related to credit cards.”  Researchers found that elder bankruptcy debtors reported 50% more in credit card debt than younger bankruptcy debtors.  Credit card interest and fees were cited as a reason for filing bankruptcy 50% more frequently.  This suggests that elder debtors rely upon their credit cards more that younger debtors.  The author of the study, law professor John Pottow, states, "These findings are both striking and ominous."


Debtors over 65 had a median credit card debt of $22,562, while younger debtors had a median of $13,615.  Nearly 60 percent of elder debtors said their financial troubles resulted from medical bills.


Financial struggles can be especially overwhelming for someone on a fixed income.  While younger debtors may be able to juggle finances, increase income, or decrease expenses in order to pay off debt, in most cases an older debtor’s fixed income pays only for the bare necessities.  There are few options to paying off high interest credit card debt.  In some extreme cases an elder debtor may forego necessary medicine, food, or utilities in order to pay monthly credit card payments.


If you have an older loved-one who is experiencing credit card debt, speak with an attorney and discover how the federal bankruptcy laws can relieve burdensome credit card bills.  Bankruptcy is powerful protection against creditor harassment, lawsuits, and income garnishments.  For most elder debtors, credit card debt can be discharged without losing any property.  Call today and protect your property and your peace of mind.

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