In 2017, there were 789,000 bankruptcy filings, which were the second-lowest since 1990. That compares to the 1.6 million filings in 2010 in the aftermath of the Great Recession. However, the decline in bankruptcy filings hasn’t been uniform for all age groups. Older Americans in Tennessee and throughout the country are filing for bankruptcy at a higher rate than in previous years. There are several reasons as to why this may be the case.

First, people in this age group are contending with higher out-of-pocket health care costs as well as fewer pension benefits. Furthermore, their Social Security benefits aren’t necessarily as good as other generations received. A researcher from Boston College found that these payments only replace 38 percent of a person’s income as of 2010. In 1980, the payments replaced 48 percent of an individual’s income after retirement. Workers who have pensions are unlikely to have defined benefits.

In 2014, only 28 percent of workers had a defined benefit while the rest were dependent on the health of the stock market. It is also possible that the higher rates of bankruptcy are a byproduct of a generation’s values. Between 2013 and 2016, those aged 45 to 64 had the highest levels of bankruptcy, and they also comprised the age groups with the most bankruptcies in 1991 and 2001.

Filing for bankruptcy may allow an individual to obtain significant debt relief and a fresh financial start. Many different types of debts could be discharged in bankruptcy such as medical debt, credit card balances or personal loans. Secured debts may also be discharged in some cases. An attorney may be able to provide more details as to how debt may be handled in a given case. Legal counsel may also provide additional benefits to seeking bankruptcy protection.