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Bankruptcy and seniors: an increasing reality

Many people in Ohio may well grow up with the idea that they will work hard during the majority of their life and then retire at some point. Their retirement years are generally expected to be funded by savings, Social Security and maybe even some wise investments. Very few people expect that their retirement years could be marked by the most serious financial problems of their entire life. That, however, seems to be the case for more seniors today than in prior generations.

The Washington Post reports that reports show a dramatic rise in the number of people over 65 filing for bankruptcy. These filers have an average median net worth of approximately negative $17,400. provides data from a U.S. Bankruptcy report that compares bankruptcy filings by consumers' age ranges between 1991 and 2016. In that time, filings among consumers 18 through 44 dropped. For filers between 45 and 54, filings rose 79% and for filers between 55 and 64, filings rose 252%. The picture gets worse for people over 65. Among consumers 65 through 74, bankruptcy filings grew 393% and among people over 74, the rate of bankruptcy filings increased 997%.

Many factors seem to be at play for today's seniors, including the need to provide financial assistance to their children and their grandchildren. The increasing amount of money they must pay for health care and their longer life spans can also be a factor that lessens the amount of money people have in their later years. Many pensions have been replaced with 401K accounts that simply do not provide the level of stability and income needed.



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