More than 1.4 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2009; surprisingly, a large number of filers were over the age of 65. Senior citizens were traditionally less likely to file bankruptcy for a number of reasons. Until recently, for example, senior citizens held less credit card debt than younger people. They have less time to repair their credit rating after a bankruptcy as well, and may feel that the perceived harmful effects of bankruptcy will haunt them forever. Considering that many myths about bankruptcy are deep-rooted, older Americans may be more likely to hold strong feelings associating bankruptcy with shame and failure.
Nonetheless, bankruptcies among the plus 65 set continue to grow. Between 1991 and 2007, bankruptcy filings among Americans 65 and older went up 125 percent; for those between ages 75 and 84 they increased an astonishing 433 percent. The recession that began at the end of 2007 has hit seniors particularly hard. The crash of the stock market meant that many seniors wound up having far less money to see them through retirement than they had hoped. While younger workers have a couple of decades to rebuild their portfolios and 401k accounts, older Americans, who need to use that money now, do not. Furthermore, many older Americans live on a fixed income – social security payments or pension payments – and they have few options to increase that income. With a national unemployment rate hovering around 10%, jobs are difficult to find for anyone. Given that many companies have a bias – legal or not – against hiring older workers, senior citizens often find it difficult to get work.
While seniors once had a reputation for eschewing credit cards and paying with cash, in recent years, credit card companies have been aggressively marketing to senior citizens. Most doctors and pharmacies now take credit cards for prescriptions and co-pays; many strapped seniors have no choice but to put those purchases on credit. The average senior now has slightly more credit cards debt than his or her younger counterparts.
The good news is that bankruptcy offers seniors the same protections it offers all Americans: a chance to keep your home. Freedom from the incessant calls of creditors. If you're on a fixed income, chances are good that you will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which will simply discharge your unsecured debt.
Why waste your golden years worrying about credit card debt? See a bankruptcy attorney today, and determine the best course for you, to bring you to financial freedom.