An increasing number of senior citizens in Tennessee and across the country are facing financial crises up to the point of filing for bankruptcy, statistics show. More seniors than ever before are seeking personal bankruptcy, with that number doubling since 2013. Since 1991, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of seniors in the bankruptcy system. Over 12 percent of filers for bankruptcy are seniors, while only 2.1 percent of people seeking bankruptcy were seniors in 1991.
While the American population is aging and more baby boomers are retiring, the rise in senior bankruptcies is outstripping the general demographic changes in the population. There are a number of factors that researchers from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project noted contributed to the ongoing rise in bankruptcy among older people. They noted that ongoing cuts to social programs in the past several decades have had a particularly harsh impact on senior citizens, as the percentage of senior incomes dedicated to health care costs have increased from 12 percent to 20 percent. In addition, the retirement age has been rising, and older people have to wait longer to access their Social Security benefits.
In addition, seniors are less able to recover from financial problems like large medical bills. Credit card debt and other bills may be impossible to pay off completely on a fixed income, especially for older Americans. Each year, around 97,600 households headed by people over 65 seek bankruptcy, and without larger social changes, that number could continue to rise.
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a difficult choice, but it can be an important path to a renewed financial future and debt relief. People of any age who are facing insurmountable debt can consult with a bankruptcy attorney about their options.