A Decade Of Personal Bankruptcies: 1999-2009
Consumer filings dropped sharply after Congress overhauled bankruptcy laws in 2005 but have been on the rise since 2006.
Source: National Bankruptcy Research Center Credit: NPR
Personal bankruptcies rose more than 30 percent last year, with more than 1.4 million protection filings. Many middle-class Americans sought relief after losing jobs, seeing their businesses fail or facing foreclosure.
In 2005, Congress overhauled the nation’s bankruptcy laws with the intention of limiting the ability of many individuals to get rid of their debt — especially through the use of Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. But in this faltering economy, the law’s impact has been limited.
In fact, far more people are now using Chapter 7 — in which assets are sold to pay off debts and what can’t be paid is absolved — instead of Chapter 13. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, an individual signs up for a time-limited repayment plan and, in return, gets to keep certain assets. Creditors often get more money in Chapter 13 filings.