A report written by John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, shows that bankruptcy rates are at their lowest in 10 years. The reasons for the lull in filings may have more to do with people being broke than secure, however. People in Tennessee and across the country might not be filing for bankruptcy because they can’t afford to file and they have few assets to protect. Bankruptcy rates do not necessarily indicate the economic health of the country.

In the late 1990s, for example, when consumer credit was readily available and the economy was doing well, the number of bankruptcies was high. According to a former president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, the bankruptcy filing rate seems to track debt-to-income ratios of Americans more closely than the economy overall. Another possible factor is that more people are carrying student debt, which is generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Former students who are saddled with student debt may not have the credit necessary to build up other types of debt, so they have little reason to file. The outstanding student debt of Americans is around $1.5 trillion. The Affordable Care Act may have had an impact on the number of filings as well. More people have health insurance, so they may not have to file for bankruptcy due to medical debts.

People in Tennessee who are struggling to pay down debts might want to speak with an attorney. An attorney who practices bankruptcy law might be able to help by reviewing the facts of the client’s situation and suggesting options to reduce or eliminate debts. An attorney might help the client complete pre-bankruptcy counseling and other pre-filing requirements or might draft and file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition on the client’s behalf.