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For senior citizens, bankruptcy can be an answer to debt problems

Here at Giddens & Gatton Law,amp; P.C., we help people from all walks of life whose debt problems have become overwhelming. Nowadays, it is becoming more common for senior citizens to consider bankruptcy as a realistic answer when retirement has become weighed down by debt.

Bankruptcy is socially acceptable now

Retirement should be a time to take it easy and enjoy life, instead of enduring high stress from money problems. Many elders today grew up in a time when people lived frugally and worked hard. Bankruptcy was seen by some as something weak or unacceptable, but that misconception is - and should be - falling by the wayside. For someone in their later years, it can give him or her a fresh start and relief from crushing debt and the pressure that comes with it. No one is too old for taking this step.

Forbes tells the story of an 80-year-old woman with overwhelming bills from heart surgery. She is quoted as saying that she had trouble eating and sleeping from the pressure, since she normally paid her debts when due. She describes bankruptcy as a "godsend" and "emotional lifesaver."

Debt and seniors

High debt is often detrimental to mental health, especially in advanced age at a time when stress can have serious affects on overall health.

Forbes fills in some of the details:

  • Medical debt is the most common reason for all bankruptcy filings and debtors at least 65 years old are about 8 percent of filings.
  • Women tend to outlive their husbands and in the current older generation, it was usually the husbands who handled the financial matters, leaving some older widows without the tools to avoid or respond to high debt.
  • Elderly people are often targeted by debt collectors and financial scammers.
  • Retirement is the time when most people's incomes are lowest and health care needs highest.

The Motley Fool says that about one-fifth of bankruptcy filings are by debtors at least 55 years old, usually because of medical bills. Medicare has significant gaps in its coverage and on average, a 65-year-old couple will pay more than $275,000 in medical debt during their retirement years, reports Motley Fool.

If you are a senior citizen facing overwhelming debt from medical bills or other sources, talk to a bankruptcy attorney about options for debt relief, including the possibility of bankruptcy. You do not need to carry this burden alone.

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