Do I have to file for bankruptcy if I'm on SSI disability and own no assets? 15 Answers as of October 24, 2013

I became disabled almost 3 years ago and SSI is my only source of income. I owe around $15,000 in credit cards and have received a letter that I'm being sued. I'm barely making ends meet and can't really afford hiring an attorney or file for bankruptcy. So I was wondering what happens if I just do nothing?

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Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
You are judgement proof there is nothing they can do to you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/24/2013
Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler | Linda Fessler
You will have a judgement against you.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 10/23/2013
Goldsmith & Guymon
Goldsmith & Guymon | Marjorie Guymon
Contact Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada to see if you qualify for pro bono representation.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/22/2013
Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs.
Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs. | Michael O'Leary
It sounds like you are "judgment proof" and, as such, there is nothing that a judgment creditor could get out of you. If you can handle the harassing phone calls, etc., doing nothing seems to be a viable option in your circumstances.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/22/2013
A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
Good question! As long as only social security is deposited into your bank account, no creditor can take it under state laws. Other assets that are protected by state laws include your vehicle (up to $15K), your furniture and wearing apparel ($12K), your jewelry ($5K), as well as other items. I urge you to have a conversation with your bank manager to be aware of bank policy when a judgment comes in.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 10/22/2013
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    They can not seize ssi income and you have no check to garnish, so you are uncollectable debt.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Heineman Law Office
    Heineman Law Office | Jeff Heineman
    In most ways, you do not need to file. Creditors cannot garnish SSI benefits (unless you owe child support). So, they can do limited things with a judgment. However, if you have an asset with a value that exceeds the state permitted exemption amount (i.e. your car is worth $10K- assuming no loans on it; and Idaho's vehicle exemption is $7K), the creditor with a judgment could try to grab the car, sell it, give you your $7K, and take the rest.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    The Salas Firm
    The Salas Firm | Ron Salas
    Probably not. If your only income is Disability it is most likely exempt and you are judgment proof.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law
    Paul Stuber, Attorney at Law | Paul Stuber
    It is likely that you are what we call Judgment proof. They can get a judgment but not be able to collect. Sometimes a bankruptcy is filed then anyway to stop the harassment or the judgment hanging over your head waiting for your situation to change.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Stuart P Gelberg
    Stuart P Gelberg | Stuart P Gelberg
    No. You will likely be sued and pursued but ultimately they will be unable to collect.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Charles Schneider, P.C.
    Charles Schneider, P.C. | Charles J. Schneider
    You can't afford to pay the $15,000.00 not the attorney fee. Don't own a car they may take it. Don't have a bank account they may attempt to seize it. Don't own anything or have your name on it.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Law Offices of Peter De Bruyn
    Law Offices of Peter De Bruyn | Peter De Bruyn
    SSI benefits are exempt from levy. So you don't have to file BK. However, the problem is if you get sued, and the creditor hits your bank account, you will have to prove that the money in the account is actual SSI. So must people file bk to keep out of that hassle.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Elkington Law
    Elkington Law | Sally Elkington
    You are what is referred to as judgment proof. That means that even if a judgment is filed against you, it is not collectable. Your SSI cannot be garnished. But, that being said, a creditor still might attempt to levy your bank account and you will need to be vigilant in informing the creditor, the bank, and the sheriff they all of the funds in your account are SSI. In order to avoid even a judgment, you should write to the creditor and tell them you are on SSI and send them proof of such. That is no guarantee that a creditor won't sue you, but generally they don't want to spend the money suing on a non-collectible judgment. The other option you might have, is to contact your local County Bar Association and see if they have a pro bono program. Many County Bar Associations have such, and they have attorneys, or have clinics where your bankruptcy will be prepared for free. Based on the income you say you're getting, you should qualify for a free bankruptcy from a pro bono program, if your County Bar Association has one available. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
    Probably not. Your SSI is not garnishable and if you have no assets, there is nothing they can take. They can give you a hard time by making you go to "asset" hearing, where they can ask you about possible asset and income, and they can do it every few years or until the judge gets cranky about it. I would call them and offer to supply proof of your income and its source and see if they won't just drop the whole matter based on your cooperation and saving them the additional expense of taking you to court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/22/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You should counsel with an attorney, the question is not only your income sources, but also your assets.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/22/2013
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