Many people in New York are struggling with massive student loan debt. Across the country, borrowers owe $1.59 trillion in student loans, and the issue has been raised in presidential campaigns and major media. While filing for bankruptcy can help people to deal with many types of overwhelming debt, including credit card bills, medical costs or car loans, student loans cannot be discharged with a personal bankruptcy filing in most cases. Congress actually passed legislation on multiple occasions making it more difficult for people to escape their student loan debt through bankruptcy.
Since 2009, medical expenses have increased 33%, which has outpaced the increase in median household income over the past 10 years. This has led some New York residents to put their medical bills on credit cards. However, there are ways to avoid using credit cards and paying the high interest rates associated with them. For example, it may be possible to negotiate a payment plan with a doctor, hospital or other service provider.
Medical bills are a major problem for people living in New York and across the U.S. In fact, around 137.1 million Americans have endured financial hardship due to medical expenses in 2019 alone, according to a new study by TD Ameritrade.
Older adults in New York are more likely to have to declare bankruptcy than in previous decades. People 65 and older now make up 12% of people filing for bankruptcy compared to about 2% in 1991. Between 1991 and 2016, there was a 66% increase in people between the ages of 55 and 64 filing for bankruptcy. For people aged 65 to 74, it was a 204% increase.
New York is home to some of the nation's finest universities, and the students who attend them often take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt to pay their tuition and living expenses. Individuals who are struggling to make student loan payments often believe that this type of debt cannot be discharged in a personal bankruptcy, but this is not always true. While the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act does make student loans exempt from discharge most of the time, the 2005 law does allow relief to be granted to prevent undue hardship.
Most of the people in New York and around the country who file personal bankruptcy do so because of overwhelming medical debt, and many of them find themselves in an unsustainable financial situation after losing their health insurance coverage. Individuals often lose their health insurance after leaving a job or going through a divorce, and a coverage gap of only two years makes bankruptcy twice as likely according to a recent study.
For many people in New York dealing with insurmountable debt, a lawsuit from a debt collector may be a very serious concern. Of course, legal action is only one of the pressure tools used by collection agencies. People may deal with phone calls, letters and other attempts to collect a debt. Over 70 million people across the country have dealt with collectors at some point or another, and one-quarter of those felt threatened during those encounters. In order to handle a legal threat or a lawsuit over an unpaid debt, it is important for people to understand their rights.
A survey from U.S. News & World Report found that 21% of Americans don't know if they have credit card debt. It also found that Americans don't always know the interest rate on the debt that they do have. Of those who were surveyed, 37% said that they had just one credit card while 12% said that they had five or more credit cards. There are many ways that debtors can get a handle on their balances such as transferring them to new cards.
Young people in New York and across the country are facing a growing debt burden. While millennials were once known as a generation averse to borrowing, especially after they came of age during the financial crisis of 2008, an increasing number of young Americans now owe a significant amount to credit card issuers. Of greater concern is the indication that more of them are also having trouble paying their bills. Americans aged 18 to 29 now have a greater amount of debt overdue by at least 90 days than at any time in the past eight years.
Many people in New York have trouble dealing with medical bills. Pursuing necessary medical treatment may leave Americans with substantial debt that is almost impossible to repay. In fact, over two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings across the country involve medical expenses as part of the overall debt burden. According to a recently released study, around 530,000 people and families file for bankruptcy every year due to the financial impact of a serious illness.