Bastarrika, Soto, Gonzalez & Somohano, L.L.P.

Older Americans filing for bankruptcy at an increasing rate

When most people think of risk factors for financial trouble, age may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But recent figures show that older Americans may be seeking bankruptcy relief with increased frequency. New research from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project may have an impact on how New Jersey retirees look at their financial future.

According to the academic paper, more older people in the United States are filing consumer bankruptcies. Additionally, the percentage of those who are 65 and older among filers is at an all time high. One author in the paper noted that this is an indicator that elderly Americans may be struggling financially.

Many elderly Americans have had access to a relatively sizable safety net that includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alongside corporate pensions. However, retirement plans can also be tied to the stock market. For those who depend largely on 401(k)s for income, market downturns can have a significant influence. Additionally, older Americans tend to be holding more debt than their younger counterparts; for example, 38 percent of those over 65 carry a mortgage.

The reasons for each individual can vary from medical debt to 401(k) vulnerability to simply not having adequate savings. However, the one thing that is clear from the research is that older Americans are filing for bankruptcy significantly more than other demographics. For New Jersey retirees facing financial challenges, the decision to file should be made in a careful, deliberate and legally sound manner. Talking about one's particular situation with a bankruptcy lawyer is a good step to take in these cases.

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