Even 5 Years Later, Retirees Feel The Effects Of Detroit’s Bankruptcy

By Susan Tompor
Detroit Free Press

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Back in July 2013, Detroit became the largest U.S. city to ever file for federal bankruptcy protection. Detroit emerged from its landmark bankruptcy in December 2014. However, the effects continue to be felt by many retirees who have had to adjust their life plans.


Five years after Detroit’s bankruptcy filing, retiree Barbara Yokom feels the financial hit each time she pays about $940 a month for health coverage.

It’s a bill that Yokom, 64, receives now only because the city ran into deep financial troubles and filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy relief July 18, 2013.

Her health-care insurance was covered when she retired in April 2012 after 38 years of working as a library technical assistant at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library.

Retirees who are too young for Medicare, which covers those 65 and older, had to find health insurance elsewhere, and many paid a fairly steep price as they sought coverage under the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Health care wasn’t the only hit, of course. Yokom saw a cut to her pension. She also was part of a group that had to hand over extra money that was part of a savings plan. She ended up turning over nearly $45,000 in what was known as a “clawback.”

Rose Roots, 81, still hears other city retirees express frustration about what the city’s bankruptcy cost them, especially when it comes to the higher health-care costs.

It is the human cost that is often too easily forgotten as many officials celebrate Detroit’s post-bankruptcy revival.

Without the everyday, real sacrifices of the retirees, the city would be going nowhere.

“It’s never good to have lost money. I don’t care who you are,” said Roots, who lives in Detroit.

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