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Many societal forces sending older adults to bankruptcy court

Rising health care expenses, longer lives, fewer pensions and low savings have begun to drive more older adults in Virginia to file for bankruptcy. From 1991 to 2016, data collected by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project showed a 12% rise in people 65 and older who need debt relief. As of 2016, 1 in 7 bankruptcy filers fell into this age group.

Health care inflation has burdened many of these people with medical bills that they cannot pay. Their longer lives add to the difficulty of paying for ongoing medical care. The decades-long decline in trade unions also left many retirees without access to retiree health care benefits after working for years without significant wage increases. The shift away from employer pensions has also limited the income for older adults.

Rising expenses and limited incomes erode personal savings and force increasing numbers of older people into debt. In 1989, only 20% of people 75 or older had debt. Nearly half of the people in this age group owed debts by 2016. The economic strain becomes worse when older adults provide financial assistance to their children, especially for education.

As a result, older adults might turn to credit cards until those balances become unmanageable. A person who cannot expect income to ever pay off debts could talk to an attorney about how to regain control of finances. Bankruptcy might provide relief. An attorney might determine that a person qualifies for a discharge of credit card debts and medical bills or a restructured debt payment plan that fits the person's income. To prepare for court, an attorney may fill out the necessary financial disclosures and manage communications with creditors until a bankruptcy judge decides the case.

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Bristle & Yi Law, PLLC
9200 Church Street
Suite 202
Manassas, VA 20110

Phone: 703-278-2027
Phone: 703-454-0701
Fax: 703-649-6368
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