BK is going gray

The social safety net for older Americans has been shrinking for the past 20 years or so. Reduced income, and increased healthcare costs, are now financial risks associated with aging. A new trend is emerging, older Americans are increasingly likely to file consumer bankruptcy. Using data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, the SSRN (Social Science Research Network) reported finding more than a two-fold increase in the rate at which Americans aged 65 and over file for bankruptcy.  Also reported, an almost five-fold increase in the percentage of older persons in the U.S. bankruptcy system. The magnitude of growth in older Americans in bankruptcy is so large that the broader trend of an aging U.S. population can explain only a small portion of the effect. The SSRN data indicates that older Americans report they are struggling with increased financial risks, namely inadequate income and unmanageable costs of healthcare, as they try to deal with reductions to their social safety net. As a result of these increased financial burdens, the median senior bankruptcy filer enters bankruptcy with negative wealth of $17,390 as compared to more than $250,000 for their non-bankrupt peers. For an increasing number of older Americans, their golden years are fraught with economic risks, the result of which is often bankruptcy.

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