‘Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans


I think there should be government assistance for these folks - tax cuts are not going to do much to help them. We have to ask what kind of country we are. What do we do with these people, seriously, as a society?


Not to sound parasympathetic, but:

This is the problem. This belief that the government should be taking care of us. That’s not the government’s job, and it is literally the institution least capable of doing so… We need to be responsible for our own money, our own retirement. Sadly, with how things are currently, especially with mounting educational debt, people are becoming less and less able to do so, causing them to rely more on the government, which causes the overall problem to get worse.

I don’t have an answer to how to help these people, but for everyone not there yet, don’t expect the government to do anything for you. Take care of your own finances or you’ll be in the same situation as all of these people.


Bankruptcy just means that someone can’t pay the debts they have, doesn’t indicate if they are poor or if they are wealthy. And that is, of course, help that the government provides.

There are plenty of other programs that poor senior citizens in America can avail themselves of too. Supplemental Security income, medicaid, subsidized housed, pharmaceutical help, food stamps.

Further, a lot of us old timers still work.

Lastly, or maybe firstly, old timers can go to the children for help. My mom doesn’t need financial help from me, but I drive her around some, pick up stuff at the store, etc.


You seem to be using poverty as a value judgement. Yes some people are irresponsible, but a lot of people are poor because of market crashes, low paying jobs, medical costs, layoffs, and the like. Yes, things can be done. Many counties have free schooling through university and their economies are doing just fine. We a can develop a much more sane and equitable medical system. We can make sure people have a living wage.


the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.


In 2007-2008 under Bush, 401K’s were cut in half

Those who were forced into retirement back then, because they lost their jobs and at age 60 plus, could not find another job, ended up retiring at 62 with a 25% less in their Social Security Benefit. Added to that was the cost of medical care before they reached 65.

Some, instead of retiring at age 62, applied for disability which often gave them the full benefit as if they were already 66 years of age.

Also, as minimum wages increase and Social Security benefits remain the same, elderly have less buying power.

Some say it’s not the government’s responsibility to care for the elderly.

The same people who say this, have no problem with the government caring for the wealthy with huge tax cuts, and for large businesses getting tax loopholes for things like moving operations to China.

From a Catholic point of view, it is the government’s responsibility to care for the poor, but especially for people who paid Social Security Taxes all of their lives, with the promise of having a retirement benefit.

I know there are people in this forum who hate Social Security, as if they don’t already benefit from it.



Here in the United States, the government does provide substantial help to indigent senior citizens.

Less buying power for the elderly on a low fixed income is addressed as rentals in senior subsidized housing is based as a percentage of income. So the market rate for the residence might go up, but unless their income rises, their rent won’t.


I hope you’re right, but I hear people saying their rent went up and their buying power dropped do to price increases on groceries and medicines.

BTW, I’m an elderly on SS retirement.

However, I worked to make for a simple lifestyle when I retired, which is why my wife and myself are living comfortable and happy. :wink:



If you live in private unsubsidized housing, or your income is more substantial, yes, expenses go up over time. Only the poorer people really get helped by the government, regardless of the age.

But for the poor seniors, here in Pennsylvania, they have help for fuel in the winter, free cell phones, free transit bus rides, and other benefits. That of course doesn’t address those seniors who have a hard time coping with any reduction in living standards after they quit working- even though they really aren’t poor.


It probable that most of the seniors filing for bankruptcy, have mortgages on their homes which their SS benefit can’t cover along with their other expenses.

I’ve watched over the past 30 years, people buying huge newly built houses and refinancing them over the years to the point that they value of the house is now underwater financially.


In a situation like that, should the government provide enough assistance so they don’t suffer a decrease in the standard of living they have been accustomed to? Some people may think so, but I’m not so sure.

In your cities big and small, there are a lot of senior hi-rises, and a lot of people are provided a basic living in their later years. But the real struggle is with those that want to remain truly independent when they don’t have the means to do it.


These are same people that bailed out the “too big to fail” banking and loan institutions through their tax dollars AFTER they lost most of their savings in the Bush era…remember?? I do. It’s history in our time.

  1. What does this mean? - - “In 2007-2008 under Bush, 401K’s were cut in half”
  2. You say that: “From a Catholic point of view, it is the government’s responsibility to care for the poor”.
    That’s an interesting way of putting it - - can you give us a catechism quote for that?


There was a financial panic in those years- that the author blames President Bush for- and equity prices dipped quite a bit as well as home prices in a lot of areas. Those that didn’t stick it out and sold out their holdings in panic got a 50% haircut.


There already is government assistance - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid if necessary, plus state run programs that provide financial assistance with a number of services such as in-home care. Unfortunately, much of the wealth lost by individuals nearing retirement age had to do with the Great Recession of 2008 where many people saw much of their wealth disappear in the stock market and in real estate. What do we do with these people as a society? Well, we can do what Paul said to do for them in 1 Timothy. Families should care for their elderly first, then the Church should assist. Why would we as a Christian community place the responsibility of caring for our elderly onto the state? Sends a horrible message to secular society about us.


Not everyone gets SS. In many states, teachers have to take teacher retirement from their state. The retirement amount for retired teachers has not changed since the 1990’s. About subsidized housing I have been on a list for 4 years for a number of different places. Most will not accept your application until your 62nd birthday. Health insurance kicks in after you have paid $3000 in doctor visits each year. Then if you need pharmacy benefits, a company decides if you may have a particular drug. I was told to find a way to pay $1500 a month for insulin. My total retirement check is $1100. If you want to use the county hospital/charity for medical benefits and pharmacy, then you are told you can not use them because they are not in the network. The retired teachers that are able to survive in my state, most of them were retired career military. They have better benefits available to them. The system needs to be overhauled. Many seniors have it worse. Many of the “broke” seniors did not have many options.


My 401K lost 50% of it’s value and it wasn’t because of panic.

Luckily, I wasn’t at retirement age and was able to stick it out until the value returned.

However, myself, like others, did lose those years building back to the level it was.

I don’t want to get into who caused it, but it happened and people who were forced into retirement in 2007-2009, lost their shirts as they had to cash out early the 401k that was cut in half.



You are correct. I saw a documentary on Enron where persons were locked out when the stock folded from selling any shares. They were forced to watch with tears their entire savings go up in smoke, some gentleman lost 700.000 in retirement savings and in his retirement years he is still working. I would imagine some a few suicides happened as well. When we’re talking about persons in retirement years they are now the ‘elderly’ whether they look like it or not and they should be helped to live a decent life in a decent home with safety…If that means we help in any way, I’m all for it…tax dollars included.


There are many programs right now, in existence for indigent senior citizens, subsidized housing , medicaid, cash money, etc.


In respect to subsidized housing, I have my doubts, rents and housing prices in the cities are climbing (granted, this could change like the direction of the economy) meanwhile programs like Section 8 have long waiting lists and affordable housing slots have such a large demand they’re akin to winning the lottery. I will concede cases like New York and San Francisco may be extreme examples though our population centers appear to be metropolitan areas like our cities and outlying suburbs (if I am not wrong, I could concede I am) and those who cannot use an automobile for whatever reason like a disabled person may be limited to the cities.

Also, I understand age discrimination among older folks is a concerning trend, if you were ever to be laid after a certain age, the future seems more uncertain, and even if you could retire early, you may have to settle for reduced benefits to live on or risk your portfolio running out.

Finally, no offense to our culture but doesn’t the stereotype of throwing your parents to “a home” hold some semblance of truth? It doesn’t seem as “close-knit” as those of Asian families (granted the Asian families may be live inter-generationally due to practical reasons as well and it takes a special type of family to make that work well).


Ordinarily seniors don’t receive Section 8, unless they have custody of grandchildren or great grandchildren they are responsible for.

Here in Pittsburgh, we have any number of senior citizen apartment buildings- some owned by private entities others by housing authorities, and they announce applications for apartments all the time. You have to meet age requirements as well as poverty requirements.

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