Understanding the High Rate of Bankruptcy Filings in Ohio

Filings for bankruptcy abound in Ohio – the state has the 10th highest rate of personal bankruptcy filings in the nation, according to a recently released analysis from Nerdwallet.com. The study examined bankruptcy filings in 587 counties across America and found that all the states in the top ten list were either in the South or in the industrial Midwest.

While the South traditionally has the highest rates of bankruptcy filings, they are probably also high in the Midwest due to economic indicators in recent years. Our region suffered in the Great Recession and still has a higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country, as well as a lower median household income. The latest available U.S. Census Bureau figures show the median household income in Ohio is $48,849 (in 2014 dollars), compared to the U.S. median of $53,482.

High unemployment and low income go hand in hand with bankruptcy. According to NerdWallet, in the period from April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016, while the median bankruptcy rate in the counties studied was 224 filings per 100,000 people, Ohio had 322 filings per 100,000 people, with 37,402 Ohioans filing for bankruptcy during that period.

So if you find yourself struggling with debt and thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you are not alone.  Debt is a big problem, but there are answers. The skilled and seasoned Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that even the most well-intentioned people can find themselves in a financial hole. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your financial situation.  Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email for your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

How the Counties Ranked

The top three Ohio counties for bankruptcy filings were Cuyahoga, at 444 filings per 100,000 people; Summit, with 407 filings per 100,000; and Mahoning, also with 407 per 100,000.

The other northeast Ohio counties with at least 100,000 population ranked as follows: Lake ranks 14th with 315 filing per 100,000; Lorain ranks 16th with 289 per 100,000; Portage ranks 21st with 262 per 100,000; and Medina, 24th with 238 per 100,000.

Reasons

Some of the reasons for the rise in personal bankruptcies have to do with the slow recovery from the recession.  Another reason is the high level of borrowing and credit card debt. There is a relationship between high bankruptcy rates and the lack of health insurance, high unemployment and low incomes in the jobs that are available.

The greatest causes of debt in Ohio include:

  • Mortgage Debt

According to a survey by GOBankingRates.com, the top source of debt for people in Ohio is mortgage debt, with an average of $125,359 in mortgage debt at the end of the first half of 2016.

  • Student Loans

After mortgages, student loans were the second-biggest source of debt for people who were surveyed by GOBankingRates.com. Ohio ranked 42nd in the nation in high debt loads for former students. Reasons Ohio scored so low include lack of grants and student jobs to help with school costs.

  • Medical Debt
  • Medical debt is the most common cause of bankruptcy filings in Ohio.  Even people with insurance can be hit by unexpected medical bills, and since people often take on additional credit card debt to cover their bills, debt only mounts.

  • Credit Card Debt

Transunion, a large personal credit rating agency, reported the second quarter of 2016 average consumer card balance in Ohio was $4,933, with a 2015 average credit score of 631, showing a significant downturn. Since annual rates can be 20% or more compounded monthly, interest charges keep mounting up and dragging down credit scores.

How Bankruptcy Can Help

Bankruptcy is a legal way to have many debts forgiven and provide a fresh financial start. The most common types are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

* Chapter 7 bankruptcy can discharge (eliminate) most or all consumer and/or business debts so they no longer have to be paid. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is over in a few months, so you can begin rebuilding credit quickly. You might have to sell property to help pay off creditors, but there are Ohio bankruptcy exemptions that cannot be sold, including clothing, cars, equipment used for work (like tools) and household furnishings. If you do not own a great deal of property, your possessions may all be exempt, qualifying you for a “no asset” case.

* Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to repay some or all of your debt affordably over a three- to five-year period. If you successfully complete the court-approved payment plan, the debts covered by the plan are discharged, and you may get to keep assets such as your house and car.

While many kinds of debt are discharged through bankruptcy, be aware that unless it would be an undue hardship for you to repay them, you would still be responsible for student loans.

Contact Us and Get Help

If your financial problems have become overwhelming, we can provide a helping hand. The experienced and compassionate Ohio debt relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer offer a free consultation to evaluate your entire financial situation. We will examine your income, your debts and your goals and discuss the best fit for you. We will make sure you are aware of all your options and help you decide on the path to a brighter future that makes sense in your individual case. We understand what you are going through and will handle every phase of the process.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today! Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email for your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

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