The golden years are turning out to be not very golden, unfortunately, for many Americans. This is something that I have noticed in my own law practice. Over the last several years, I have seen a trend in more older and retirement age folks having to seek bankruptcy assistance.
Why Is This Happening?
I think there are several reasons for this trend of older Americans turning to bankruptcy for financial assistance and relief. One thing, and also one of the top three reasons in my opinion why anyone seeks bankruptcy advice, is due to medical debt. For some, the costs of keeping proper insurance to pay for some or all of their medical expenses ends up taking all of their monthly income. Others have no insurance coverage or insufficient coverage, so they get inundated with medical bills from various providers. These bills eventually get turned over to debt collectors who bully and harass a person to the point of emotional breakdown.
Many older Americans who have no assets and only social security income are “judgment proof.” This means they have no assets or funds for a debt collector to take. However, this does not stop the collectors from trying to collect the debts from those people. Turning to bankruptcy becomes a very viable and welcome option to restore emotional well-being for many. Even if you have been fortunate enough to accrue some assets over the years, there are ways to get this emotional peace from bankruptcy and to protect assets you may have acquired.
Caregivers for Future Generations
Another growing reason I have noticed that older Americans are seeking financial assistance in the form of bankruptcy is that they are trying to help and take care of their children or even grandchildren. Many people I counsel may have up to three generations living in their home and be the sole provider for everyone. For others, their kids have not been able to find gainful employment after college and have moved back home. They may be working part-time jobs to help out but it is a strain on the parents and their financial stability and future.
Credit Cards and Scams
In addition, many older Americans have problems understanding many credit card offers and fees charged by some companies for unwanted add on services and are also easy targets for financial scams. Unfortunately, scammers convincingly swindle large sums from retirees and others making it difficult to meet their real financial obligations. This is evidenced in a recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where the CFPB analyzed over 103,000 complaints made by Americans age 62 or older about these issues. Turning to bankruptcy can help someone out of this difficult and, oftentimes, embarrassing and frustrating bind.
Many Americans are continuing to work past retirement age just to pay bills that have accrued and have not been able to plan for retirement. Most don’t consider bankruptcy as financial planning but, in fact, it can serve that very purpose. If you are hoping your golden years will be golden and you have too many unpaid bills and expenses in the way, give one of our offices a call today and come in for a free consultation to discuss if bankruptcy can help you plan for a better future.
Amy K Tanner is a shareholder in several of the Bond & Botes Law Offices. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She focuses primarily on consumer bankruptcy law in the Huntsville and Decatur offices.Read her full bio here.