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How Much Debt Does A Senior Citizen Need to File Bankruptcy in Florida

How Much Debt Does A Senior Citizen Need to File Bankruptcy in Florida
January 13, 2023

We received an interesting question to our Elder Needs Bankruptcy Department: 

I’m a senior citizen in debt. How do I know when I have enough debt to file for bankruptcy?  We get this question from many elder Floridians that are considering filing for bankruptcy.  The short answer is that there is no minimum debt threshold for filing bankruptcy. Elderly debtors who otherwise qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can file with any amount of secured or unsecured debt. The purpose of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to provide the debtor with a fresh start without the burden of overwhelming debt. In some cases, this debt may be objectively very small (perhaps only a few thousand dollars), but it be relatively very large to a senior citizen on a fixed income from retirement, disability, or otherwise.

Where the senior’s debt amounts are small, both the debtor and bankruptcy attorney should take care to consider all of the consequences of filing. First, bankruptcy is not cheap. There is a court filing fee, a credit counseling fee, a personal financial management course fee, and, of course, your elder needs bankruptcy attorney’s fees. In some extreme cases some or all of these fees may be waived. Second, a senior citizen bankruptcy filing can significantly impair the debtor’s ability to borrow money and obtain credit, at least for the short term. Finally, non-exempt property may be at risk. For senior debtors who are otherwise indigent, these consequences have little, if any, affect. Many low-income elderly debtors seek bankruptcy protection simply to rid themselves of the nuisance of debt collection.

While there is no minimum amount of debt required to file a Florida Elderly Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy laws set a ceiling on the amount of secured and unsecured debt a person can have in a Chapter 13 case. The debt limit as of 2022, are $2,750,000 combined of both secured and unsecured debts. Chapter 13 debt limits adjust every three years. Cases that exceed these limits are ineligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy but may qualify under Chapters 7 or 11. There is currently some confusion in our courts as to how these debt limits apply in a joint husband and wife Chapter 13 case. Some courts will separately consider debt that is individual and not joint, effectively increasing the Chapter 13 limits.

An experienced bankruptcy attorney who focuses our practice on the needs of the elderly, we can evaluate your case and discuss any issues surrounding your case. Whatever the amount of your debt, if you are unable to pay, the federal bankruptcy laws can offer you substantial relief. Speak with an experienced senior citizen bankruptcy attorney and discover how the federal bankruptcy laws can help you.

If you are a senior in need of financial relief from your debts, bankruptcy may be your solution. At Elder Needs Law, PLLC, all we do is consumer asset protection, Medicaid planning, Estate planning, probate and Senior Citizen Bankruptcy. We protect assets from the government, nursing homes, spouses, family members, and creditors. If you are over the age of 65, please consult with a bankruptcy professional that focuses their practice on the senior population. You have more options than you might think, and some options have hidden costs and fees you want to avoid. You owe it to your family to weigh all your options and to be fully informed with a plan of action in place. Please contact Elder Needs Law, PLLC at 305-614-7379 or look us up on the web at for more information on how the asset protection attorneys at Elder Needs Law, PLLC can help you and your family.

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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