Articles Posted in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Published on:

Faced with a nearly impossible standard to discharge federal student loan debt in bankruptcy due to undue hardship, creative debtors’ attorneys and the bankruptcy courts are continuing to create pockets of relief wherever possible.

Finding that “non-dischargeability does not immunize the student loan claim from modification,”a bankruptcy court confirmed the debtors’ plan under which their payments would go to the principal on their student loan debt with accumulated post-petition interest to be paid post-discharge. In re Duensing, No. 18-10201 (Bankr. D. Kans. Feb. 22, 2019).

The guarantor of the loans, ECMC, objected to the debtors’ proposed treatment of the student loan debt arguing that, because the reduction of principal would result in declining post-petition interest, the proposed plan effectively discharged her student loan without a finding of undue hardship.

Published on:

2019-Florida-Median-Income-BankruptcyThe new median income figures are out this week.  Whether you are above or below these figures is not the only factor that is looked at however.  But many of the expenses allowable under the Means Test have increased and if you were borderline last year, you may qualify for a Chapter 7 now.  Or have a lower plan payment in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Florida single wage earner – $49,172.

Family of two – $60,400

Published on:

debt-incomeDebt is to be used sparingly.  It allows you to make purchases which you cannot afford.  In other words, debt allows people to live beyond their means or to spend more than they earn.  While this may appear to be a good thing when an emergency arises, there are serious side effects.  These side effects include 1) paying more for an item than what it’s worth in the form of interest; 2) possible inability to pay off the debt; 3) added pressure and stress which can lead to medical and relationship problems; and 4) being a “slave” to your debt.

While some debt will always be necessary such as a home loan, usually a car loan, and a reasonable amount of student loans, it’s important to only take on a modest amount of debt and have a plan for repayment.  Just because a lender wants to loan you money is not a good reason to take it.  Many college students took out excess student loans to pay for all kinds of stuff.  Unnecessary stuff.  With private loans in excess of 10% interest, that $5 latte easily turns into a $10 latte after a few years!

One client this week advised that she had incurred over 200k for a two year AA degree over a long period of time.  She’s had a difficult life, and had to retake many courses and change degrees/schools etc.  That’s perhaps one of the worst places to find yourself.  She cannot afford to return to school, and has almost no education to show for that debt.

Published on:

https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgOn January 31, 2019, Judge Stong of the Eastern District of New York denied the Motion to Dismiss filed by SLM Corporation, Sallie Mae, Inc., Navient Solutions, LLC and Navient Credit Finance Corp.  In this Memorandum Decision, the Court dealt a blow to the private student loan defendants when it permitted Plaintiff to proceed with its case (note a Motion to Dismiss is a preliminary motion and the case is far from over).  In re Homaidan, Adv. Pro. No. 17-01085 (E.D. N.Y. 2019).

A nearly identical ruling was made the same day in In re Tashanna Golden, Adv. Pro. No. 17-01995 by the same Judge.

These cases dealt with Tuition Answer loans which the Plaintiff alleges are not “qualified education loan[s]” under the Bankruptcy Code Section 523(a)(8)(B), and for that reason, they were discharged in his Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.  The Plaintiff argues that loans of this nature are excluded from the scope of his bankruptcy discharge and therefore any attempt to collect the debt after the bankruptcy discharge amount were impermissible and a violation of the discharge order.

Published on:

https://www.tampabankruptcylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2015/07/christie_d._arkovich_p.a_1_small.jpgGenerally, approval is needed from the bankruptcy court to take on any new debt in the form of a new federal or private student loan.  This would include the filing of a refinance or even a consolidation application – as these are considered new loans.

ECMC, the guarantor of FFEL government backed loans, has a specific policy regarding regaining Title IV eligibility during a bankruptcy.  Whether a borrower is in a Chapter 7 or 13, they are required to make six consecutive payments in order to regain Title IV eligibility.

If the student loan debt is not listed, or if it is listed in the bankruptcy, but the plan provides for 0% to be paid to general unsecured creditors, then the borrower is not considered to have established a “satisfactory repayment arrangement” through their bankruptcy plan.

Published on:

consumer-law-with-bkWhen you are thinking about hiring a bankruptcy attorney, what should you consider? – besides all the regular stuff like client reviews, years of practice, cost, availability, knowledgeable, friendliness of attorney and staff etc.

One thing to keep in mind is what other areas does that law firm handle and could that help you fix your situation.  As you can see from the chart above, many bankruptcy attorneys just take bankruptcy cases.  While that’s fine, most people facing a bankruptcy also have issues with their credit report, foreclosures, debt collection violations, robo calls, student loans etc.  We handle all of that.  We also have a class action team.  One consumer area we don’t handle is vehicles – I don’t know a thing about our lemon laws or other issues regarding vehicles for instance.

I’m not suggesting you hire someone who dabbles in bankruptcy to file your bankruptcy.  That is probably the worst thing you can do.  But hiring a firm that is experienced in bankruptcy plus the other issues you are facing is probably best.  We have over 25 years experience in bankruptcy plus a myriad of other consumer related issues commonly faced by our clients.

Published on:

Most of us still use the New Year as an opportunity to review the past year and set goals for the New Year.  My own practice has grown tremendously from this goal setting.  We target the best strategies to grow our practice and help our clients to get back on track financially.

As most of you know, we practice bankruptcy and foreclosure defense as we have for many years, but since student loan debt has become such a crisis, much of our work is focused on eliminating that debt.  We have developed different strategies both inside and outside of bankruptcy to reduce student loan debt.

A new tool we are adding this year involves the misreporting of student loan debt on credit reports.  Put quite simply, the student loan servicers often can’t get it right.  They send bills with different amounts owed, transfer the debt so often that it appears duplicate times on a credit report, inaccurately reports payments etc.  We intend to hold them accountable.  Stay tuned as we hope to blog about this regularly to help our readers recognize when their credit reports may be in error and costing them real money – by denied credit or increased cost of credit, insurance etc.

Published on:

bank-owned-foreclosureThere a lots of reasons a debtor needs to file a bankruptcy.  However, debtors should be warned that they are likely giving up valuable rights to fight a foreclosure of their home if they do so — unless they reaffirm the mortgage.  Over the last few years, many debtors elected not to voluntarily reaffirm an underwater home — this would allow them to be personally sued for any deficiency balance even after the bankruptcy was over.  Another problem is the decision to reaffirm sometimes comes up before a loan modification review is complete and debtors aren’t sure whether reaffirmation is in their best interest.

Bankruptcy case law has been building in various Florida jurisdictions over this conflict.  Many courts have seen this as an issue of debtors “having their cake and eating it too” when debtors are released of their liabilities under the mortgage, but yet they can continue to fight the foreclosure and live rent free.

In response to this dilemma, Governor Scott just signed a bill on March 26, 2018 that stops defendants from defending a foreclosure if they have previously agreed in bankruptcy to surrender the property to their lenders.

Published on:

oopsWould you know what to do if the Social Security Administration mailed you a letter stating that you have been overpaid and that you owe the government tens of thousands of dollars?  No problem, this oversight can be eliminated in a bankruptcy filing.  My colleague, attorney Jonathan Ginsberg in Atlanta, Georgia practices both bankruptcy law and Social Security law and I asked him to answer the question “can bankruptcy help you if you owe Social Security for a disability overpayment?”  Here is what Jonathan says:

Surprisingly, the answer is yes – as a general rule Social Security disability overpayments are dischargeable in bankruptcy.  You can use Chapter 7 to wipe out overpayment claims or Chapter 13 to pay back these claims as general unsecured debts.

Why Social Security Disability Overpayments Happen

Published on:

Reports have been surfacing that the Department of Education is kicking borrowers out of Income Driven Plans when they file bankruptcy.  It makes no difference if they are in a Chapter 7 or 13.  It also doesn’t matter if the debtor is current in their payments.  The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) views this as a direct violation of 11 U.S.C. 525 (Protection against Discriminatory Treatment).

There are ways to counter this and remain in an Income Driven Plan to continue progress toward debt forgiveness including Public Service Forgiveness.  A new development is spreading across the country to file what is called the Buchannan provisions in a Chapter 13 Plan.  We have recently adopted this in Tampa, Florida.

On January 5, 2018, Trustee John Waage and Judge Catherine McEwen agreed to the following Non-Conforming language in In re Hyland, 8-17-bk-01564-CPM that now allows for Income Driven Repayment Plans concurrently with a Chapter 13.

Contact Information