Libertyville, IL, September 16, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- AAFR, the American Association of Future Retirees
, has called the soaring number of Americans 65 and over who are being forced into bankruptcy "a national disgrace."
"These are people who have worked and contributed since before most of us were born," said Ed Garrison, AAFR's executive director. "Now they're being forced to spend the last years of their lives in poverty, and for many, shame. What does that say about us as a nation if we treat our parents and grandparents this way?"
According to a recent report, older Americans are being "hit by a one-two punch of jobs and medical problems, and the two are often intertwined. They discover that they must work to keep some form of economic balance and when they can't, they're lost." The study further notes that this is a recent phenomenon. In 1991, the age group of people 55 and older accounted for only 8 percent of bankruptcy filings. By last year, that number had soared to 22 percent.
Many factors have contributed to the change. Among these are:
* More older Americans are living at or below poverty level. They are financially unable to handle even the slightest economic setback.
* Fewer homeowners own their homes "free and clear" of a mortgage because of repeated refinancings or home equity loans. Consumer debt has also increased. As a result, more and more people are entering retirement age saddled with debt.
* The personal savings rate has sunk to near zero. A larger percentage of the population now has little or no savings to fall back on.
* Increasing health care and prescription drug costs are only partially covered by Medicare.
In a statement released yesterday, AAFR called for measures to protect Social Security, make Medicare coverage more comprehensive, and roll back recent legislation, which was heavily lobbied for by the credit industry, which makes it more difficult to discharge debts through bankruptcy.
"The human suffering caused to today's older Americans by bankruptcy is bad enough," Garrison said. "But even more ominous is the fact that it's not just a temporary blip--it's a trend. And all the causes of the trend are on the increase. If nothing is done, we're in for an unprecedented disaster when the Baby Boomers start retiring. The next administration and Congress, whether Republican or Democrat, can't sit idly by and allow this to happen. We at AAFR will be watching their actions closely to make sure they don't."
AAFR, the American Association of Future Retirees, is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy and education for those expecting to retire over the next few decades. Its Web site is at http://www.aafr.org, and its informational blog, The Future Retiree, can be found at http://www.aafr.org/future-retiree.