Researchers have identified a startling new trend in bankruptcy filings. They have gone up significantly for elderly people in Mississippi and nationwide. Since 1991, the number of filings from people over the age of 65 went up by 480 percent by 2016. When looking at the filings from people over 75, the increase during that period approached 1,000 percent.

Insufficient income and medical expenses represent the primary forces overwhelming older people and retirees. Drawing upon survey data collected by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, researchers found that almost 70 percent of elderly bankruptcy filers cited job loss, income decline or inadequate retirement savings as the cause of their financial troubles. Medical bills or problems interfering with work came in a close second with 62 percent of people responding that health care issues motivated their filings. Some people experienced a financial hardship because of changing eligibility for Social Security and the shift away from pensions to 401(k) savings plans.

The majority of people tried to repay their debts for two or more years before seeking debt relief. Although the rise of seniors going bankrupt has emerged as a new trend, young and middle-aged people still account for the majority of bankruptcy filers.

When debt overwhelms a person, threats of repossession, foreclosure or wage garnishment could add to the stress. A conversation with an attorney about bankruptcy could inform someone about the potential for debt relief. A lawyer could analyze an individual’s income and debts and explain how a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy might resolve the problem. If a person decides to file, then an attorney could prepare financial disclosures for the court and assume communications with creditors. The advocacy of a lawyer might enable a person to start over with a manageable payment plan or discharge of debts.

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