Senior citizens in North Carolina and around the country are filing for bankruptcy in unprecedented numbers according to a recent study. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies filed by Americans between 55 and 64 years of age have risen by 66% since 2016, and the number of retirees in the United States seeking debt relief has more than tripled. These were just two of the sobering statistics a University of Illinois professor discovered when he looked into the financial challenges faced by older Americans.
Most personal bankruptcies in the United States are filed to escape overwhelming medical debt, and this is especially true among older filers. The University of Illinois professor says that 60% of the American retirees who file bankruptcy petitions do so because they have health care bills that they are unable to pay, and many of these senior citizens only turn to debt relief after exhausting their savings.
Protracted medical treatment can quickly lead to doctor and hospital bills that run into tens of thousands of dollars, which can leave those living on modest incomes in dire financial straits. The situation is particularly challenging for retirees who are not able to earn extra money by working overtime or taking a second job. For these Americans, filing a bankruptcy may be their only option.
Attorneys with experience in this area could advise those with unmanageable financial situations to look at bankruptcy as the first step toward a fresh start rather than a last resort. Attorneys could explain that the bankruptcy code was put into place to provide Americans with an escape from crushing debt and not to punish them for falling behind on their bills. Attorneys may also dispel the many misconceptions about bankruptcy that prevent people from taking action that would put an end to near-constant stress and daily harassment from debt collectors.