“Getting old isn’t for sissies,” goes an oft-quoted saying often attributed to the actress Bettie Davis.
If she were around today, Davis might be inclined to add a variation on that theme. Getting old isn’t for sissies, and neither is being in debt – especially for seniors whose so-called golden years have turned sour.
This problem is not merely anecdotal. Data from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit group, bears this out. From 1992 to 2007, the average overall debt for people between the ages of 55 and 64 doubled.
According to the EBRI, that figure now stands at $70,370. And more than 8 in 10 people in the 55-64 age group are in debt.
As one might expect, medical bills are one of the main causes of this indebtedness, and for filing for bankruptcy. Mortgage debt is also a key factor, and is made worse by the decline in housing values following the real estate crisis.
And then there is credit card debt. For people 65 and older, the average amount of credit card debt has risen to over $10,000. This is a substantial increase from only a few years ago. Indeed, the percentage of the increase among seniors has been the largest of any age group.
It should also be noted that student loan debt is not only a problem for the young. In March of this year, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported that people who are 50 and older owe billions of dollar on student loans. Of the $870 billion in student debt, 17 percent is hold by those over 50.
Complicating matters even further is the sluggish economy. Even Bettie Davis might be a bit daunted by the post-Recession economy.
Source: “Seniors Struggle Under Growing Debt Load,” LoanSafe.org, Alex Ferreras, 6-4-12