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Growing Debt Among Older Americans Threatens their Retirement

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In the past ten years, the amount of debt among households headed by someone age seventy-five and up has been dramatically increasing. Older Americans are struggling with heavy student loan debt, credit card debt, and mortgage which threatens their chance of retiring.

Fay is an example of an American in this situation who may not be able to retire. She was laid off from her job in her seventies and then realized that she didn’t have enough savings that could cover her expenses and pay off her massive debt. She currently has $50,000 in student loan debt, another $50,000 in credit card debt, in addition to a mortgage payment for her house in Pennsylvania.

Fay eventually took a part-time job but one of her greatest fears was losing her home and ending up on the street. This is a real fear that many older Americans face.

In 2016, the average debt among households headed by someone age seventy-five and older was $36,757. That average debt amount has increased by $6,469 since 2010.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the number of Social Security recipients 65 and older with had their Social Security check reduced because of their student loans increased by more than 500% between the years of 2002 and 2015.

Carrying high debt levels from student loans, credit cards, and mortgages and having the main form of income as a Social Security check leaves many older Americans feeling helpless.