People age 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the population seeking bankruptcy protection.

For many, bankruptcy carries a stigma of personal failure and shame. Still, filing for bankruptcy protection may be a viable option for a growing number of seniors who find their incomes shrinking while their bills – particularly medical bills – continue to rise. USA Today recently reported a study from the University of Michigan Law School showing that people age 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the population seeking bankruptcy protection.

It’s a matter of simple math. Medical expenses, taxes and other costs keep going up, while Social Security hasn’t had a cost of living adjustment, pension and retirement accounts took huge hits during the recession, and more seniors are entering their “golden years” carrying a mortgage and other debts. Indeed, seniors carry 50 percent more credit card debt than their younger counterparts, according to the Michigan study.

Depending on where you live, and your own state’s bankruptcy laws, filing for bankruptcy protection may be a viable solution for seniors – and the ramifications may not be all that drastic. Again, depending on your state’s laws, qualified retirement funds and home equity may be protected. And, although your credit score will take a hit, this may not really impact you if you are not planning to make large purchases – such as a house or a new car. In many ways, bankruptcy may offer a viable way of beginning again, even as you seek to enjoy your retirement.

There are many issues involved, and laws vary from state-to-state, so competent counsel is necessary to help determine whether bankruptcy may be the right solution in any individual situation.

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