At the Law Office of Paul R. Idlas in Illinois, we have noticed that more and more of the people who come to us for help in filing bankruptcy are senior citizens. Even the New York Times has reported on this new “gray bankruptcy” phenomenon, reporting that seniors like you now represent 12.2 percent of all bankruptcy filers whereas you represented only 2.1 percent in 1991.
Unfortunately, a number of factors have coalesced into a perfect storm that often prevents your senior years from being your golden years, including the following:
- Longer waits for Social Security benefits
- Skyrocketing medical costs
- Medicare coverage gaps
- Extensive debt
- Little or no savings
Savings have declined precipitously over the years. Even two years ago, senior-headed families had only a median savings of $60,000. The statistics are even grimmer for the lowest 25 percent of such families. Their savings amounted to less than $3,000.
Exorbitant health care costs
Probably the biggest reason for declining savings is the health care cost crisis this nation faces. No one need tell you that your health care costs, including prescription costs, have risen astronomically in recent years and show no signs of decreasing. Today it is not at all uncommon for someone living on Social Security benefits to spend up to 41 percent of his or her benefits on health care. Far too many seniors face the impossible choice of filling their prescriptions or buying groceries.
Do not feel guilty if you find yourself in the position where bankruptcy appears to be your only option for getting out from under crushing financial difficulties. Given the shrinkage of the national safety net, bankruptcy may indeed be your only realistic option. Rest assured that bankruptcy does not represent a black mark on your character. Rather it represents one of the few options left to struggling seniors. Do not hesitate to avail yourself of its benefits.
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