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Pro Se Filer with questions about SSI & At&t


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Due to excessive medical bills (which were ongoing ,partially due to a disabled child), my husbands wages were garnished and we couldn't afford to pay our rent and utilities. We were just barely making it before then because I lost my job due to medical issues.

After the garnishment started, we consulted with a bk attorney, only to find that we couldn't afford the fees.

The garnishment stopped after a few months and I shopped around for new cell service. On about 6/25 AT&T approved us. The first bill arrived and I planned to pay it with husbands paycheck... then it was garnished again. We filed chapter 7 at the end of July. I also applied for SSI for our disabled child.

We were approved almost right away for SSI.


I checked the at&t account online. Instead of the $89 I owed at the time of filing, the charges are now over $1000. Are they allowed to tack on charges like that after the filing date? I didn't think the debt would be discharged because it's so new, but I also didn't think $900+ in charges would be added to the bill. I know that 'didn't think' is a terrible excuse. especially now.

With the SSI issue: It's for my disabled child. We got the check and immediately bought diapers and supplies for the special needs program the child is in. Will the trustee demand the money back?

If the money is demanded back are all the funds due at once? Without the garnishment we can deal with a payment plan if we're allowed to use the ssi money, but I thought that was just for things that the child needs.

I am searching for employment to solve the income issue, and have had interviews, but no job offers.



ETA: The reason why we filed so quickly was to keep the car from being repo'ed. There is no public transportation in our area, and we have to travel frequently for doctors appointments. We did not have enough to make the payment the car company wanted.

We were granted a fee waiver when we filed.

Edited by grapemistake
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A question for you BK attorney, and an easy one at that.

Let's just say a BK stops a house from being sold when it's on the auction block as the auctioneer has said, "going once, going twice" and instead of "sold" you say "bankruptcy"

That's what BK is for. To stop the drowning and let you get your head above water. The AT&T bill is probably the accelerated costs of the phones with the contract and the accelerated amount of the two year contract, $900.00 sounds about right for all that.

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1. The SSI will not be taken by the Trustee as it is exempt. However, if you had cash just sitting around on the day you filed (as apposed to traceable SSI benefits sitting in a segregated bank account) there may be an issue if the cash cannot be exempt.

2. I cannot tell you why the AT&T bill jumped to $1,000.00, however, I can tell you that the service provider does not have to continue providing services. Can it demand payment for a pre petition debt. . . No. But, can it demand payment of a "deposit" going forward in order to keep the service. . . Yes. You should contact AT&T for further information or look for another service provider. I have heard that "google voice" is a viable alterative to a traditional phone service but do not know anything about it - might be worth checking out.

3. As to your car. . . You do realize that a Chapter 7 is not going to help you keep it. Your creditor will be free to repo 45 days after your 341 meeting unless you take steps to reaffirm or the creditor gets stay relief sooner. I assume you cannot bring payments current and I further assume the lender is not going to work with you. If my assumptions are correct you have only delayed the loss of the vehicle - but maybe that is all you were looking for - a little extra time using it.


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Ummmmm, if the SSI funds are for your child, then the money really belongs to the child, not you. You are simply a trustee making sure that the funds get spent on the needs of your child.

Since that is the case, the BK trustee cannot touch the funds belonging to your child because your child did not declare BK, you and your husband did. Now you will have to prove that if you had cash on the day of filing but your BK attorney should be able to explain that to the BK trustee. I also doubt that any of the debt was in the name of your child.

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We filed pro se.

If AT&T drops us, we don't care because we can go prepaid. I'm just worried that that debt won't discharge because it's within the 90 day period and we will have to pay it. We cannot afford to pay that entire bill at once.

Some of the bills ($3k) are my childs medical bills, but I'm responsible for paying them. My child is disabled, and the doctors office worked with us while we were getting denied for insurance. They offered a $25 a month payment plan, then the hospital that owns them sued us before that started. They are who garnished my husband.

I exempted the garnished funds. If the lender agrees to reaffirmation, and the garnished funds are returned to us, we will use that to catch up with the car. If we lose the car, but get the garnished funds back, we will put that towards the down payment. If we do not get the garnished funds back, I'm not sure what we'll do, other than scrape together the money for a down payment like we did last time. As long as there is no garnishment we can just barely afford the car+insurance.

We had almost no money when we filed, but I was worried about the ssi because it wasn't declared anywhere on the petition. The person that took our application said it would take at least six months and we would probably be denied. Even a few of the childs therapists said our child would be denied, so I assumed that if we did see the income, it wouldn't be within six months... then we got a check in the mail.

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You could simply offer to reaffirm the contract with AT&T if they are willing to go back to the original plan, you pay what you owe to date, and they remove any extraneous charges. They probably will not do an adverse hearing because those cost so much money that judges laugh at anyone that does one for less than $5000 owed. That is because even if the contract says you pay for legal costs in a BK, the judge can say no and his word is final (remember the auto companies declaring CH 11 BK a couple of years ago so that they can break the Union contracts? same situation).

For the SSI, if that check came after the date you filed, then there is no issue. The trustee is only concerned with funds you had on the date you filed. If it came before you filed, they you can claim that the funds belong to your child.

Finally, what do you mean down payment for a car? You just declared BK and will have a repo on your credit report. No one other than Santander or Buy Here/Pay Here will even try to give you a loan for the next 2 years at least and you do not want to deal with either place. I suggest simply saving up money to buy a cheap but reliable car for a while rather. You would be surprised on what you can get your hands on for $1k - $2k.

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Put your SSI checks in a separate account. DO NOT commingle exempt funds with other monies or they can be levied or garnished from your bank. They can not be touched if in a separate account that is exempt. If it's not that way now, run don't walk to your bank and set up another account today.

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