America's student loan debt crisis is taking its toll on consumers in Tennessee and across the United States. A new study by LendEDU finds that 32% of individuals filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy have student loan debt. Of those individuals, student loans account for almost 50% of their average total obligations.
Many people in Tennessee are struggling to make ends meet and falling behind on their bills. There are a number of issues that can contribute to financial troubles, from excessive credit card debts to sudden job loss. However, the most common single cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is medical debt. In fact, a full two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings are linked to significant medical bills that people are unable to repay. Excessive consumer spending is linked to 44% of bankruptcies, while costly mortgages are linked to 45%.
When people living in Tennessee file for bankruptcy, they typically do so with the understanding that the automatic stay of bankruptcy, and eventual discharge of debts, will stop creditor harassment. Unfortunately, there have been cases in which a creditor has decided to pursue a debt after a bankruptcy discharge.
Some bankruptcy cases in Tennessee involve court-issued judgments that obligate defendants to pay debts resulting from lawsuits. Because federal law governs bankruptcy, the judgments issued by state courts will not automatically avoid discharge within a bankruptcy. A creditor expecting to collect on a judgment, however, might petition the bankruptcy court to deem the applicable debts nondischargeable if the judgment resulted from intentional conduct or fraud.
The number of older Americans filing for bankruptcy today is three times what it was in 1991. A combination of factors has contributed to the increase, including rising health care costs and a decline in pension benefits. Generally speaking, older Americans have fewer retirement funds today than in the past. This puts them at a greater risk for bankruptcy. In many cases, a 401(k) savings plan is the only cushion they have to fall back on.
Student loan debt is a major financial burden for many graduates throughout Tennessee and the rest of the country. This debt often prevents individuals and families from buying cars and even taking out loans for homes. In order to make things easier for borrowers, many advocates are proposing drastic changes to bankruptcy laws. Currently, discharging bankruptcy debt is a difficult process that involves specific proof of hardship.
A significant number of Americans in Tennessee may face a growing debt burden as a result of medical bills. Even though people often prepare extensively for the medical costs they will have to bear, almost one out of every seven patients received an unexpected bill despite receiving treatment at hospitals considered in-network for their insurance providers. In many cases, even in-network hospitals resulted in at least one out-of-network claim. People who needed anesthesia under surgery often faced these claims; 16.5 percent of all such claims were associated with anesthesiology.
A number of Tennessee residents are battling with debt, whether it be from medical bills, credit card balances or student loans. Understanding the impact that this debt is having on their workers, a number of companies around the United States are offering to help pay off employee debt.
Tennessee residents who are considering filing for bankruptcy may have several available options. One possibility is to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is also referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In this type of filing, nonexempt assets are sold off with the money used to repay creditors. A key benefit of Chapter 7 protection from creditors is that debts are generally discharged in a matter of months as opposed to a matter of years.
Tennessee residents who are struggling to pay their medical bills are not alone. A study that appeared in the American Journal of Public Health found that illnesses and their associated costs contributed to around two-thirds of all bankruptcies.