Overwhelming consumer debt can result from many factors beyond job loss or income reduction.
"Sometimes it can exist on its own due to overspending or other issues," Herman says.
Filing for bankruptcy can help make these debts manageable.
"Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers have somewhere in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 (in debt), which even at a conservative 17 percent interest rate is very difficult to service," Herman says.
Filing for bankruptcy is a much better way to discharge debt than "making a life-altering mistake like liquidating their 401(k)," Herman says. She adds that bankruptcy also may have tax advantages.
"The debt that is discharged through a bankruptcy cannot be treated as income and taxed," she says.
Ehrenberg agrees that filing bankruptcy to get rid of overwhelming consumer debt is a reasonable option. However, he urges consumers not to rush into bankruptcy before weighing factors such as "the impact on your credit rating and whether or not you're going to need credit shortly after you file for bankruptcy."