Bankruptcy Lawyers
South Carolina


Filing for Bankruptcy When You’re Retired

Senior couple having a hard time at home, calculating incoming bills and debt.

Our South Carolina bankruptcy lawyers reveal what to know

Nearly everyone looks forward to retirement after a lifetime of working hard to make ends meet. Unfortunately, far too many people in South Carolina are not financially prepared for life after work and face the possibility of bankruptcy.

Is retirement in your budget?

Thinking of retirement? Get out your calculator and maybe take a deep breath, because retirement is both complicated and expensive. Depending on where you live, you will need anywhere from nearly $700,000 to $1.3 million to retire comfortably, a GOBankingRates survey reports.

The sad reality is that about 64% of Americans on the verge of retirement have less than $10,000 in savings. If you are one of that great majority, you’re going to experience trouble meeting day-to-day expenses, to say nothing of unexpected bills.

You might want to consider bankruptcy. While it may carry an unfair negative stigma, bankruptcy among seniors is becoming more common. A 2018 survey found three times as many retirees filing for bankruptcy than in 1991. Current financial circumstances, such as the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising inflation, are pushing that number even higher. Other factors include:

  • Soaring medical expenses.
  • About 20% of Americans have no retirement savings.
  • Seniors with student loan debt have quadrupled in the past 10 years.
  • Many workers have discovered that their pensions have either disappeared or are underfunded.

What if you can’t meet your budget when you're retired?

Some seniors turn to credit cards or liquidating their few assets just to make ends meet. Not only are they delaying the inevitable – the day when the bills come due and their bank accounts are empty – they are creating undue stress on themselves when they should be enjoying their golden years. Sometimes, the best solution can be bankruptcy protection.

Seniors have two bankruptcy options:

  • Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can keep your property as long as you commit your disposable income toward paying down debt. It is essentially a three-to-five-year repayment plan that allows for the restructuring of debt so you don’t have to sell off everything you own to pay your bills.
  • Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the choice of most retirees, you do not have to pay unsecured debts like credit cards and medical bills. You are free and clear of these when it’s over but you must meet some qualifications. Chapter 7 is not a good choice if we cannot protect your assets. The process can generally be completed in four to six months.

There is some good news. In both scenarios, Social Security benefits are not affected. Also, pension and retirement plans are often protected from creditors.

Legal help is available for seniors in South Carolina

If you have worked hard for 40 or 50 years, you should feel entitled to a comfortable retirement. That’s part of the American Dream. Declaring bankruptcy can protect you from creditors, foreclosure, repossession, and other nightmare scenarios that are beyond your control. Nearly a million Americans make similar choices every year. There is no shame in protecting your future – you deserve a chance to take advantage of what the system offers to hard-working Americans. You may not have a fortune, but you have put in a lifetime of honest work.

Since 1985, the bankruptcy attorneys at Benjamin R. Matthews and Associates, LLC in South Carolina have handled thousands of cases just like yours. With offices in Columbia and Rock Hill, we stand ready to help you pursue a sound financial future for yourself and your loved ones. We will work with you every step of the way so that you fully understand one of the most important decisions of your life. Your initial consultation is free, so call us today.

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2010 Gadsden Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Phone (803) 799-1700
Fax (803) 728-6718

331 E. Main St, Suite 257
Rock Hill, SC 29730

Phone (803) 909-9377
Fax (803) 728-6718