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The “golden years” of retirement might not be so golden, after all.
A new study from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project shows that the rate of people over 65 filing for bankruptcy has more than tripled since 1991.
What’s driving this surge? According to the study, rising out-of-pocket medical expenses and declining incomes are putting seniors in dire financial straits:
The social safety net for older Americans has been shrinking for the past couple decades. The risks associated with aging, reduced income, and increased healthcare costs, have been offloaded onto older individuals. At the same time, older Americans are increasingly likely to file consumer bankruptcy, and their representation among those in bankruptcy has never been higher.
While bankruptcy is designed to provide financial relief, the Consumer Bankruptcy Project says it may be “too little too late” for seniors:
If current bankruptcy trends among seniors continue, our bankruptcy courts will be flooded with financially broken retirees. For older Americans, bankruptcy is too little too late. By the time they file, their wealth has vanished, and they simply do not have the enough years to get back on their feet.
We’ll dig into the numbers and discuss what can be done to provide more support to seniors and if this trend can be reversed.
- Deborah Thorne Principal investigator, Consumer Bankruptcy Project associate professor, University of Idaho
- Cindy Hounsell President, Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement
- Michelle Singletary Syndicated columnist of "The Color of Money" for The Washington Post; @SingletaryM
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