Because of our beautiful year-round sunshine, Florida has always been a popular destination for retirees and seniors. With such a high concentration of seniors in our demographic, all aspects of senior life are amplified. Unfortunately, that means many seniors who are suffering from financial difficulties live here on the Gulf Coast.

Experts tell us that the number of senior citizens (those over 65) filing for bankruptcy is on the rise. In fact, more seniors are filing for bankruptcy than ever before. In the past, the two main reasons for bankruptcy in the older demographic were divorce and medical costs.

Therefore, current high healthcare costs, a decline in pension fees, and a decrease in income are likely behind the rise in filings.

Unfortunately, seniors have fewer options to raise their income if they run into financial difficulty. If a senior had pre-existing debt issues and has now moved onto a fixed income, problems could become even more pressing.

Main Reasons Seniors File Bankruptcy

* Company retirement plans offer less in benefits and pension than ever before

* They didn’t save or invest adequately for retirement

* They rely on social security checks, which can be garnished to pay loans

* Divorce at this stage is crippling, with little chance for “starting over” financially

* Unexpected medical issues and illness occur more frequently

* The rise in medical costs, insurance premiums, and prescription costs is significant.

* Any mortgage, credit card, or loan debt that follows them into retirement must be paid out of fixed funds.

Many seniors find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and see themselves adding to their debt monthly just to get by.

Never Too Late

No matter your age, you can take positive steps to improve your financial situation. Seniors may need to adjust their spending, cut back on unnecessary expenses, or consider relocating to a more modest home. Seniors should also be honest with their families about their financial struggles and not be afraid to ask for professional help. Many senior citizen centers and resource outlets can provide information on where to get free counseling to help the situation and assist with budgeting and financial restructuring. Even making minor changes will often allow seniors to pay off bills and take back some of their financial freedom.

Debt consolidation may be a viable option at this stage. Like bankruptcy, a court-ordered consolidation can stop wage garnishments, collections, and creditor harassment while renegotiating terms with current creditors.

Bankruptcy Options for Senior Citizens

No one likes being harassed by creditors, and seniors may be particularly vulnerable to being bullied and pressured. But senior citizens should not feel hopeless or helpless – there are ways to get out from under unwanted debt. All the anxiety and financial hardship that results from an excessive debt liability may be minimized or eliminated through filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you are a senior citizen stressed by financial burden, you don’t have to feel alone in the struggle. There are ways to take the pressure off and relieve your debt burden – it’s not too late, and you are not beyond the time period for help.

Richard V. Ellis is a Sarasota-based bankruptcy attorney who has helped hundreds of local residents get back on their feet and receive a fresh start. We can help you to enjoy this stage of life, not be stressed and pressured. Call today to discuss your situation and your options. We are here to help.