Seniors and Bankruptcy
Dallas Bankruptcy Lawyer
Are you having bankruptcy or financial distress? Contact Allen Stewart today.
Bankruptcy rates among elderly Americans are skyrocketing according to a recent study cited by U.S. News and World Report.
The Consumer Bankruptcy Project’s data shows the rate at which Americans at least 75 years filed for bankruptcy more than triples from 1991 to 2016, with filings by those between 65 and 74 increasing more than 200%.
Jamie Kirk, bankruptcy attorney with Allen Stewart, P.C., said rising healthcare costs along with falling social security benefits and more elderly Americans helping care for family members.
“More and more issues are affecting elderly people, and I get calls constantly about whether or not retirement is exempt, or if they’ll lose their home,” Kirk said. “A lot of it is because of healthcare costs, as well as healthcare costs for family members.”
Kirk said formerly stable sources of retirement income, including pensions and retirement funds, are less prevalent today than previous generations. She said social security payments scale with the amount contributed instead of providing a set benefit, making it harder for seniors to survive on these payments alone.
She said the most common problem her clients seek help with is credit card debt. Many seniors face declining health which in turn inhibits their ability to work. They use credit cards to shore up the difference and rack up high balances.
“A high number of my clients are over the age of 55 to 60, nearing when they should be able to retire but in reality they are stuck under a mountain of credit card debt,” Kirk said. “Before you consider taking the drastic step of going into your retirement or home equity funds to pay off debt, you should talk to someone about whether or not bankruptcy could help you.”
Kirk states credit card debt can be discharged in bankruptcy, and many retirement funds are exempt assets. Social security funds, a home, and one vehicle are also exempt.
Filing for bankruptcy stops harassing phone calls from creditors, Kirk said, and keeps creditors from filing a lawsuit and garnishing back accounts.
“It’s the most discouraging thing to see someone use their retirement to pay off credit cards, knowing the tools bankruptcy provides,” Kirk said. “It’s not a better situation overall for the economy or our country for retirement-age people to have more credit card debt than they can pay on their fixed income.”
Kirk urges seniors facing debt problems or those who care for them to reach out and contact the office of Allen Stewart, P.C. for helping finding the best solution going forward. She said generational attitudes toward bankruptcy shouldn’t prevent seniors from seeking help.
“I definitely think there is a stigma,” Kirk said. “You definitely know people who have filed bankruptcy who have just never said anything.”
Kirk said she takes particular interest in helping seniors through the bankruptcy process after seeing her family face similar problems.
“Come in and meet with me,” she said. “Take some time and know we care about your situation, and we can help.”
You deserve an attorney with the skills and experience to find the best solution for you. If you are struggling to stay above water, call Allen Stewart, P.C. today and find your path back to financial wellness.