Once again I am seeing tons of older Floridians filing bankruptcy.
They are getting hit by medical bills, as usual. But the biggest change seems to be that they can no longer rely on the support of their families. Money being sent out of the country by immigrants to poor families back at home is down by over 30% today (CNN Report).
Moreover, the Harvard study found as follows:
"The older the age group, the worse it got — people 65 and up became more than twice as likely to file during that period, and the filing rate for those 75 and older more than quadrupled.
"Older Americans are hit by a one-two punch of jobs and medical problems and the two are often intertwined," said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor who was one of the authors of the study. "They discover that they must work to keep some form of economic balance and when they can't, they're lost."
That's precisely what happened to Noda. She worked all her life, on a hospital's housekeeping staff, and later selling boat tickets to tourists. She cut corners when she needed to but always paid the bills she neatly logged in a ledger.
"I was born during the Depression," she said. "I paid the bills whether I ate or didn't, whether I went to the doctor or not."
It all worked fine for Noda, a widow for 23 years, until she was forced to undergo double-bypass surgery and deal with respiratory problems. She started using two credit cards more frequently for food and bills. Before long, she was $8,000 in debt and behind on car payments.
"I'd go to bed and all I had on my mind was bankruptcy," she said. "I had nothing left."
Noda's car was repossessed, but her trailer home wasn't in jeopardy because her daughter owns it. While she's covered by Medicare and receives $968 in Social Security each month, she relied on her job for other expenses. She had no choice but to get help from Jacksonville Legal Aid and declare bankruptcy.
[Our firm in Jacksonville confirms the wide spread nature of these issues...and Legal Aid is very little support]
Most bankruptcies are still filed by people far younger than Noda, but the percentage the younger filers make up has fallen over the 16-year period, according to the Consumer Bankruptcy Project analysis, which will be published in the Harvard Law and Policy Review in January.
In 1991, the 55-plus age group accounted for about 8 percent of bankruptcy filers, according to the study, which looked at more than 6,000 cases filed in 1991, 2001 or 2007. By last year, filers 55 and over accounted for 22 percent.
Each age group under 55 saw double-digit percentage drops in their bankruptcy filing rates over the survey period, older Americans saw remarkable increases. The filing rate per thousand people ages 55-64 was up 40 percent; among 65- to 74-year-olds it increased 125 percent; and among the 75-to-84-year-old set, it was up 433 percent."
All in All...times are getting tougher and tougher. I sat with one great grandmother who cried because she has raised kids, grandkids, dealt with everything for 84 years but is heartbroken about loosing her car and her house at her age.
How are we treating our seniors? Calling and harassing them for money is what they tell me.