Seniors throughout Kentucky and the rest of the U.S. are filing for bankruptcies in alarming numbers, according to a recent report. After studying data gathered by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, a group of academics discovered that the number of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy petitions filed by Americans aged 75 or older had tripled since 1991. In addition, filings by Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 had more than doubled. The results of the study were published on Aug. 5 by the Social Science Research Network.

These figures mean that the percentage of bankruptcy filings made by older Americans has increased by almost 480 percent in less than 30 years, and the percentage of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petitions filed by Americans over the age of 75 has risen by a worrying 1,000 percent. According to analysts, the rise in these “gray” bankruptcies is largely due to changes in Social Security eligibility, the decline in traditional pensions and the increase in popularity of 401(k) savings accounts.

The data reveals that the soaring costs of health care are also a factor. The researchers found that medical bills were a catalyst in more than 62 percent of the bankruptcies filed by older Americans. Health care expenses were the primary reason for pursuing debt relief 40 percent of the time. These trends are worrying experts because health care costs are expected to continue rising in the years ahead and one in four Americans will be 65 years of age old or older by 2050.

An attorney with experience in Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases may be able to help someone who is struggling with overwhelming bills pursue debt relief options. Filing for personal bankruptcy could open the door to a fresh start.