It used to be (or at least seem) like once Americans reached their mid-60s, they could relax, travel and enjoy the fruits of many years of work. Now people are living longer and working years past the once-traditional retirement age of 65.
Sometimes they don't do so by choice. They need the income to make ends meet. Many older Americans are finding themselves in serious financial straits. The number of seniors who opt for bankruptcy to relieve some of their financial distress has risen in recent years by 300%, according to The Financial Times.
There's no one reason for this surge in bankruptcies among senior citizens. There are many factors, including rising medical costs, lower incomes, fewer people with pensions and increasing amounts of debt. Some baby boomers are still paying off their student loans debts -- their own, their children's and/or their grandchildren's. Many have significant credit card debt.
Since, on the whole, boomers are living longer than their parents' and grandparents' generations, they need a larger financial cushion to get by -- one they may not have. One sociologist says, "The baby boomer attitude to debt has not turned out to be as frugal as you would think it would be, having parents who lived through the Depression. Partly it's because they have jobs that don't keep up with inflation and they might have to have five or six jobs to make ends meet."
If you're an older person considering bankruptcy to climb out from overwhelming debt, you're not alone. It may be wise to discuss your particular situation with a bankruptcy attorney to determine the pros and cons of Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy for you -- as well as your other options.