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I'm struggling with credit card debt on SSI and need help (New York State)

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I'm currently living in New York State. I've been in credit card debt ever since I opened my first credit account way back in 2010.

My credit and credit score has been flawless I've NEVER been late on a payment ever in my life. Recently, though I've acquired too much debt to be able to handle on my very limited income. I've been on SSI since I was 21 years old. I couldn't qualify for SSI:D because, I never really worked a day in my life, I couldn't I was born with my disability. So, my income has been limited to the $733 maximum that Social Security in this state gives to disabled people who haven't worked like myself.

It's been a very difficult struggle to completely live off of SSI and back on July 23rd of 2015 I got married and they docked my check even more. Making paying off my credit card debt even more difficult. Because, now I have to support my wife and myself off of the very limited income that we get now. I lost over $100 a month getting married but, got married because I wanted to one day start a family and my wife and I are both religious and wanted to be married first before we procreated.

I'm now 30 years old and admit that, I'm too young to handle a credit card responsibly and, being on SSI I never should have really opened a credit card account in the first place.

But, I still owe over $2,500 in credit card debt and currently, can only afford to pay $100 a month towards that debt, paying that $100 my wife and I can barely afford to eat, we haven't bought new clothes in several years, and we've been putting off family plans. At the current rate that it is, our credit card debt is eating us alive and we cannot possibly live like this for the 3-4 years that it's going to take to pay off our credit card debt.

My wife and I discussed it with my parents and they advised me to stop paying my credit cards. Which, I have no qualms against, I don't care if my credit tanks anymore because, I never want a credit card again. If I need to borrow money I will borrow money off of my parents or sister or other family members. I don't trust myself with credit cards again. Home loan? I'll never get one because, I'll never be able to afford payments on a home loan living off of SSI. Car loan? I don't drive, nor do I ever have intentions of driving. My wife and I can't work, so I don't have to worry about that either. So, I'm wondering, what would happen to me? I cannot go bankrupt either because, it costs $1,000 to go bankrupt which, I don't have. And why would I spend almost half my debt going bankrupt anyway?

And, we cannot afford to keep a telephone so, we cannot even receive calls.

What I'm afraid of and need legal advice on is, can Discover later sue me for my debt? Or would they even bother suing over $2,500?

Or, can they touch my assets in this state? I have $4,000 worth of computers and furniture that I've accumulated over the last 7-10 years and I'm afraid of them going after those in a legal suit against me because if I lost those, It would take me YEARS to get them back. Can they even touch my SSI money in the first place? Since, It's already an extremely limited income and I heard that I cannot be sued for child support if it came to that so, is it the same with credit card debt? If they cannot touch my assets or my SSI money, will my debt be wiped off in seven years?

My wife, also owes about $35,000 in school loans for schooling that she never finished. Currently, I have paid about $5,000 towards that loan since November of 2011. The student loan company recently agreed to allow us to stop paying for a year due to our limited income. But, they claimed that they have to continue reviewing our case every year for the next 30 years before they'll finally write off the debt.

Is there any way I can get this loan written off before I'm 60? I didn't cosign for this loan, her parents did so legally, I'm not responsible for this loan but, I feel financially responsible because I'm her husband and, her parents can't afford the $35,000 either and I've already paid $5,000 or so towards this loan already over the course of 5 years. I also, was more financially stable back then.

I mean, my wife and I deserve a family and financial freedom and to be able to afford to eat. We shouldn't have to let our previous financial mistakes when we were young literally ruin the rest of our lives. I can't help being disabled so, why should I be punished being disabled for the rest of my life? There has to be light at the end of this tunnel.

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SSI would be exempt and make sure your bank knows that's the only source of deposits to protect it in case of a future judgment. It would be best to have that in its own account so funds don't get commingled in case both of you are using the account. For your other property, check your state judgment exemptions. See Exempt Income Protection Act and current judgment exemption laws.

The student loan may be one of those things for now to just renew your financial situation yearly to have an income based payment plan in effect. Adding the parents in as co-signors is a problem. you may not be responsible for the student loan and would be collection proof but NY law may require sorting that out- a few states (including New York) consider professional degrees to be marital property. 

Get all your notes together and set up a free consultation with a consumer attorney. http://www.consumeradvocates.org/find-an-attorney



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Guest usctrojanalum

Okay so being that you can barely afford to eat, immediately stop paying that $100.00 per month towards your credit card debt.  Have to take priorities due to your dire financial condition.

If you have a family member willing to gift you the $2,500.00 to pay off the credit card debt, that obviously is the most ideal situation.  Notice that I did say gift you the money. If they have any expectations of being paid back, do not take the money from them since it will likely cause family problems.  

If you do pay them back then that is a bonus. 

Make sure your bank account is below $1,700.00 at all times. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been in your shoes, scared and unsure of my options.   Make sure your food, water, light and clothing needs are met (reasonably) before trying to tackle any other debts.  

Do you mind giving a few more specifics about your situation?  A few questions:  

  • Do you and your wife have a joint bank account?  
  • Is she listed as a joint card holder with Discover?
  • Does your wife work outside the home?  
  • Is this credit card currently in default?  
  • What are your plans to increase your income in the near future?  It sounds like you are suffocating and a few hundred dollars a month extra can change this whole situation and fast.

I would not waste money on Bankruptcy, and here is why:  

  1. Student Loans are not bankrupt-able.  
  2. You are judgment proof.  IF the debt is solely in your name and IF SSI is your only source of income, a consumer debt collector cannot touch that.    
  3. If your wife does work outside the home then her income is only at risk if she is listed on the credit card and/or if you have a joint bank account.

With regards to the Student Loan, the government can garnish your SSI ONLY if you signed for the note or if you guaranteed the debt.  Otherwise, only your wife and co-signers (her parents) are on the hook there.   I am not entirely sure of the specifics of NY State law but it is probably safer to keep your finances separate and not list each other as joint account holders for the time being.    And as others have mentioned, keep your bank account balance on the low side.  Your wife is obligated to pay the Student Loan if she signed for it.  I understand that you want to step up to help and not burden your in-laws, and that is very admirable.  

While I don't advocate not paying your debt, it doesn't sound like paying towards the credit card is an option for you right now.  The creditors won't like it, but if given the choice between feeding your family and paying your credit card, your family should win every time.  If you stop paying the card they may or may not sue you and get a judgement against you.  Because your SSI income cannot be garnished, a better option might be to pay or settle at a time when you are able.  

I ask some of these questions because my answers would change depending on the specifics of the situation.  

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