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Steps To Take Before, During, and After a Bankruptcy To Reduce The Impact On Your Credit

Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2015 at 4:42 pm    

credit-scoreMany people wonder how they can protect their credit during a bankruptcy. There are actually several steps you can take before, during, and after a bankruptcy to help reduce the bankruptcy’s impact on your credit to the greatest extent possible. The Fort Mitchell, Kentucky offices of Lawrence & Associates can help you find ways to mitigate credit damage based on your particular circumstances. In the meantime, here are some tips:

Tips Before Bankruptcy

A Fort Mitchell, Kentucky resident with credit card accounts that have zero balances should stop using them immediately! If the balance is less than six hundred dollars, paying it off may be a good idea before the bankruptcy. However, you should never pay more than $600 toward your debts prior to bankruptcy, and you should always consult with an attorney before doing so. Many credit card companies will keep a person’s account open during bankruptcy if the card has a $0 balance when the bankruptcy is filed. If the account remains open until after the bankruptcy, then that card can be used to rebuild credit.

Tips During Bankruptcy

A Northern Kentucky resident can help to improve credit as well. Reaffirming on a loan or lease for a car will help to improve your credit rating. Future car payments will also help boost your credit score. It is not wise to reaffirm on a vehicle if the payments are beyond your ability to pay, but with a careful budget in place payments toward a mortgage or a car loan will continually improve your credit score. A good Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy attorney will prepare a budget that allows for such payments.

Tips After Bankruptcy

In Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, almost everyone that exits a bankruptcy gets credit card solicitations immediately. If the solicitation comes from a legitimate and well known credit card company, they might help you improve your credit. You’ll need to make sure that the company reports the credit line to the credit bureaus, so the payments on the card will help your credit. If you do accept such a credit card, be sure to charge only minimal amounts to it such as gas or groceries. Most importantly, ALWAYS pay the card off at the end of the month to avoid interest taking a big bite out of your budget. Finally, be sure to always pay all loan or credit card payments on time, as timeliness is important to your credit rating.

Unfortunately, our office does not provide additional services for rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy, although we can help you file bankruptcy or preserve your credit rating before filing bankruptcy. If you’d like more advice on filing bankruptcy or maintaining or preparing to preserve credit during bankruptcy, call Lawrence & Associates at our Fort Mitchell, Kentucky or Warsaw, Kentucky today!

If you are overwhelmed by mounting debt and tired or receiving harassing phone calls from creditors, contact Lawrence & Associates today. We can help you obtain that fresh start that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Illness and Overwhelming Medical Bills Send Many into Bankruptcy

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2015 at 3:53 pm    

chapter 7 bankruptcyAccording to a 2007 study, 62.1% of all bankruptcies have a medical cause and the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 50% between 2001 and 2007. [1] Moreover, a recent article in Forbes highlighted one woman’s story of illness and mounting debt and stated that overwhelming medical bills cause 17-62% of all bankruptcy declarations. [2]

Stephanie Casey Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

The woman featured in the Forbes article, 30-year-old Stephanie Casey, discusses her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis and the skyrocketing medical bills and debt associated with the diagnosis. Before the diagnosis, Mrs. Casey and her family were in an ideal situation- they had health insurance, IRA accounts, a sizeable emergency fund, were saving for a home, and no debt. However, the medication for MS rose from $2,800.00 to $3,600.00 per month and even with health insurance, Mrs. Casey was responsible for $250.00 per month. That’s over $3000.00 a year spent just on injections to help slow the progression of MS!

The High Cost of Healthcare

In the article, Mrs. Casey also expresses concern for her future and the future of her family. She states, “If I lose my vision, like 81% of MS patients do, and can’t work–this would mean that I’d no longer be covered by health insurance after 18 months of COBRA–we’re prepared to file for bankruptcy. If I don’t have insurance, and I lose my income, our family would be functioning on my husband’s salary alone to cover a $2,200 a month mortgage–and my $3,500 per month medication.” She goes on to state, “We’d be bankrupt within a few months of running up credit card bills to pay for the drugs, so it would be better for me to file individually, get down to no income and qualify for disability insurance and patient assistance programs from the drug manufacturers.”

Filing for Bankruptcy May Help

Although Mrs. Casey’s situation may seem extreme, many insurance companies in Northern Kentucky cancel coverage when the employee suffers a disabling illness because they become too sick to work, leaving them with medical bills and no insurance.With the rising costs of medical care and the increase of individuals struggling to stay on top, filing for bankruptcy may help relieve some of that debt. A Northern Kentucky Bankruptcy Attorney can help you get a better idea of what disclosures are required in order to file for bankruptcy and what debts will be discharged.

If you are overwhelmed by mounting debt and tired or receiving harassing phone calls from creditors, contact Lawrence & Associates today. We can help you obtain that fresh start that you deserve!

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Can My Social Security Disability Be Garnished by Someone I Owe? It Depends Who You Owe…

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 4:21 pm    

Social SecurityAt Lawrence & Associates, many of our clients come to us with garnishments already in place. Those clients are usually at the point of desperation, because a garnishment is the death sentence for the careful balance we strike with our creditors. Suddenly, instead of staying one step ahead of the bills, we are one step behind and losing more ground every day.

What Can Be Garnished?

When a judgment results in a garnishment, it’s important to know what can be garnished and what cannot. Everyone knows that a paycheck or bank account can be garnished, and that the IRS can withhold a tax refund to repay past due income taxes from a prior year. What many Northern Kentucky residents don’t realize is that social security disability checks can also be garnished under special circumstances.

Private Debt Collectors Can’t Garnish Disability Benefits But They Can Go After Bank Accounts

First, let’s start with private – as opposed to government – debts. Generally, private creditors such as credit cards or medical providers (think Capital One or St. Elizabeth Hospital) cannot garnish social security disability benefits. They can, however, garnish bank accounts that hold these benefits if the benefits are deposited by check or if the bank that holds the disability funds is also the bank you owe money to.

The U.S. Government Can Garnish a Percentage Your Social Security Disability Benefits

The amount of the garnishment depends on what kind of debt you owe. If you owe money to the IRS for back due taxes, the IRS can garnish up to 15% of your disability check. If you owe money for student loans, the government can also garnish up to 15%, although it cannot touch the first $750 of disability payments. If you owe child support or spousal support, your social security disability benefits could be garnished by as much as 50% to 65%!

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Stops Private and Government Garnishment of Your Social Security Disability Benefits

In Northern Kentucky, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a good way around a social security disability garnishment. Even the government has to obey the automatic stay, which is the bankruptcy court’s order that requires all creditors to stop collecting their debts once a bankruptcy is filed. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can pay off non-dischargeable debts – such as student loans, taxes, or child support – over a three to five year period without those debts incurring interest or penalties in the meantime.

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

Relevant Posts


Disability Explained: What Kind of Benefits are Available Through the Social Security Administration (SSA)?

Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 at 8:41 am    

Social SecurityLawrence & Associates helps our Greater Cincinnati clients who have become disabled as a result of injury, disease, or age get the benefits they are owed by the Social Security Administration. It is important to be sure that you file for all available benefits when you first file a claim with the Social Security Administration, and hiring a knowledgeable Northern Kentucky law firm is the best way to ensure you are getting everything you deserve.

Retired Worker Benefits

The Social Security Administration pays retired worker benefits to any Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky citizens that worked for long enough to be covered by social security and who have reached at least age 62 (for partial benefits) or age 70 (for full benefits).  These benefits are also available to the minor children of a retired worker if the child is either a) under the age of eighteen, b) under the age of nineteen and in high school, or c) disabled before age twenty-two.  Finally, these benefits are available to the spouse of a retired worker if the spouse is age 62, if the spouse has a minor child in his or her care, or if the marriage lasted at least ten years (in the case of a former spouse).

Survivor Benefits

The Social Security Administration also pays survivor benefits to any Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky citizens that is the child, widow(er), or parent of a deceased worker.  A child applying for these benefits must meet one of the three criteria for a minor child described in the paragraph above.  A parent must be at least age 62 and must be able to prove that he or she relied on the deceased worker for support.  A widow(er) must be either a) at least 62 years old, b) at least 50 years old and disabled themselves, or c) have a child under age 16 or a disabled child in his or her care.

Disabled Worker Benefits

The most common type of Social Security benefit to require an attorney’s services is the Disabled Worker Benefit, also known as SSDI or DIB.  However, also be aware that the child or spouse of a disabled worker can get benefits under this chapter so long as they meet the criteria described above.
>> More About Disabled Work Benefits/SSDI/DIB Application Process

Supplemental Security Income Benefits

The Social Security Administration offers benefits under Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI.  This is needs based income for the aged, blind, or disabled. Although any Greater Cincinnati or Northern Kentucky citizen is eligible to apply for this, it is commonly seen hand-in-hand with Social Security Disability benefits. In order to get SSI, a single individual cannot have more than $2,000 in resources, and a married individual cannot have more than $3,000 in resources.
>> Social Security Disability Overview

A Strong Advocate For Your Right to Recover Benefits

Lawrence & Associates will be your strong advocate in the social security system, standing up for your right to recover the benefits you’ve paid into for so long. The process for filing for social security disability is long and complicated, but with a strong advocate you will have a much higher chance of success. Our Northern Kentucky Social Security Disability attorneys will keep you informed of the progress in your case and return your calls as soon as possible. We hope you’ll choose us to represent you!

Other Posts in this Series

[posts type=”category” name=”Disability Explained Series” limit=”4″ date=”m-d-Y”]

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation


Disability Explained: Have You Been Disabled as a Result of Injury, Disease, or Age? You May Be Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014 at 4:06 pm    

Social Security DisabilityThe Social Security Administration offers many kinds of benefits. Lawrence & Associates helps our Greater Cincinnati clients who have become disabled as a result of injury, disease, or age get the benefits they are owed by the Social Security Administration. The two most common types of benefits are Social Security Disability Benefits (also called DIB, SSDI or Title II benefits) and Supplemental Security Income (also called SSI or Title XVI benefits). It is important to be sure that you file for all available benefits when you first file a claim with the Social Security Administration, and hiring a knowledgeable Northern Kentucky law firm is the best way to ensure you are getting everything you deserve.

Attorney Fees Don’t Have to be Paid Out of Pocket

It’s important to know that your social security disability attorney does not have to be paid out of pocket for his or her services. Instead, attorneys in Northern Kentucky receive 25% of your back pay from your Social Security award, usually up to a $6,000.00 limit. This is important because it gives the disabled the ability to hire an attorney to maximize their chances of success, and it ensures that the disabled will not owe an attorney money if the claim is not successful for some reason. An attorney can file a petition with the Social Security Administration for more than a $6,000 fee if a claim involves multiple hearings or appeals, but in practice this is rare.

Conditions Eligible for Disability Vary Widely

The types of conditions that are eligible for disability vary widely, and can include anything from cancer to Down’s Syndrome to orthopedic injuries. In the Greater Cincinnati area, the most common reasons to get disability tend to be: back and spinal injuries, vision loss or blindness, diabetic related conditions, loss of use of an arm or leg, anxiety, depression, and arthritis. You cannot get disability if you are still working, even if you are working in a limited capacity or with work restrictions approved by your doctor and employer.

A Strong Advocate For Your Right to Recover Benefits

Lawrence & Associates will be your strong advocate in the social security system, standing up for your right to recover the benefits you’ve paid into for so long. The process for filing for social security disability is long and complicated, but with a strong advocate you will have a much higher chance of success. Our Northern Kentucky Social Security Disability attorneys will keep you informed of the progress in your case and return your calls as soon as possible. We hope you’ll choose us to represent you!

Other Posts in this Series

[posts type=”category” name=”Disability Explained Series” limit=”4″ date=”m-d-Y”]

Contact Us (859.371.5997) for a Free Consultation

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