The financial pressures that can drive anyone in Tennessee to choose bankruptcy hit seniors especially hard. A new report based on data collected by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project revealed a large increase in the number of people 65 and over who have declared bankruptcy. As of 2016, one out of every seven bankruptcy filers fell into this age group. Since 1991, the number of senior citizens in bankruptcy court jumped 480 percent.

Surveys of bankrupt seniors established income declines as the top source of falling into debt. Job loss or insufficient savings in 401(k) retirement plans left many people unable to make ends meet. A rising Social Security retirement age and the downfall of pensions represented other factors that reduced income for seniors.

Financial difficulty also frequently arose from medical problems. Sometimes poor health forced people out of the workforce. For those already retired, rising medical expenses overwhelmed their fixed incomes. Sixty percent of respondents often struggled to stay ahead of bills for two or more years before investigating debt relief.

During a period of financial strain, a person might be threatened by foreclosure and harassment from creditors. A consultation with an attorney might produce a plan to deal with credit card bills and medical debt. After examining a person’s income and debts, an attorney might suggest filing for Chapter 13. This form of bankruptcy may establish a manageable payment plan and potentially stop foreclosure. To prepare for court, an attorney may organize the person’s financial records and assume communications with creditors. An attorney might also inform uncooperative creditors about the bankruptcy court’s stay on collections. Any questions that arise in court may be handled by an attorney to help achieve a fresh financial start for the person.