More Elderly Seek Bankruptcy Protection

Debt Counselors in Ohio and other states report more 50, 60, and even 70 year olds are seeking relief from creditors. Oftentimes, the pile of debt forces the elderly into bankruptcy court.

At the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Midwest on east Broad Street, Vice President, Rich Call, sees first hand the consequence of unmanageble debt. He says more people, either retired, or near retirement age, are seeking financial relief. “We’re seeing situations where they’re having to help their own children out and their grand-kids out. And then of course they throw in the cost of medical insurance and prescriptions that as you get older generally there are prescriptions that go along with that.” Says Call.

As bills mount and financial options fade, more elederly turn to bankruptcy court in an effort to protect their homes. Ohio University Assistant Professor, Deborah Thorne, says her research shows the elderly are the fastest growing age group among those seeking bankruptcy. “Times are a-changin huh? It doesn’t bode well for our assumptions, hopes and expectations for what retirement will be like. It suggests that the golden years, (slight chuckle), if people indebted are in the red well then the golden years have turned quite red.” Says Thorne.

Thorne adds that even though more elderly seek bankruptcy most are still ashamed. She says while the stigma of carrying unsecured debt has faded the stigma of going bankrupt remains strong and intact.

Back at the East Broad street Counseling offices, Call says creditors often have to work more with elderly clients since much of their income is protected from garnishment. “In a lot of the cases, the seniors, without having a specific wage coming in, it may be social security, it may be a pension of some type, it makes it from a creditor’s perspective they pretty much are locked into having to work with what the client has available because they don’t have the same resources as to how they can attach a paycheck or go after other means to get at their monies.” Says Call.

While its too late for many of his clients to have financial security. Call advises younger clients in their 30s and early 40s to find ways to save for old-age.