Between 1999 and 2019, the total debt for Americans above age 70 skyrocketed 543%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, thanks largely to a deterioration in the nation’s “modest social safety net”. The debt burden for this demographic amounts to $1.1 trillion; for Americans in their 60s, the total debt is $2.14 trillion—a 471% increase since 1999.
The growing use of high-deductible health plans, the shift from pension plans to 401(k)s, and increases in medical and higher-education costs—not to mention long-term care expenses and longer life spans—have stretched seniors’ ability to pay bills and manage retirement. According to the Federal Reserve, older citizens who are forced to find new jobs often have more trouble than younger employees, and they often work for lower salaries. A 2018 academic study found that in the last 2.5 decades, there was a five-fold increase in the number of people over age 65 who filed for bankruptcy.
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