Social Security Disability Benefits in the New Year

Social Security Disability Benefits Elizabeth struggles from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a mid- stage of a rare, but deadly form of lung cancer, mesothelioma.  Twenty years ago, Elizabeth was working as a volunteer firefighter when she was called to the scene of a fire at a historical building.  By the time Elizabeth arrived, the building was completely engulfed in flames and her husband, who was also a firefighter, was stuck in the building and was not rescued until it was too late.  Elizabeth was traumatized from the event, but had to keep on moving forward for her family.  Last year, she started to feel very ill and had her most severe panic attack to date when her son went away to college.  After visiting a doctor, Elizabeth was told she had been and was suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, attributed to witnessing her husband’s death.  Her early diagnosis of mesothelioma was a surprise for a younger woman of 50, but the doctors had speculated that she had breathed in asbestos particles from her husband’s clothing and body (after he fought fires) and from all of her own exposure while firefighting.  Her overall diagnosis is not good, but Elizabeth has a life expectancy of at least 2 to 3 years, maybe more if she’s able to manage her health in other ways.

Elizabeth never remarried and has worked hard, as a book keeper, to provide for her 3 children.  At one point, she had attempted to return to school and get her Master’s degree in Financing, but was too overwhelmed by the physical, emotional, and financial stress.  With one teenage child still living at home, Elizabeth cannot afford not to work, but is physically and mentally unable to.  Six months ago, she filed for social security disability benefits (SSD) and was initially denied because her condition was not severe enough, after being given a more thorough and accurate diagnosis, she was approved to receive benefits, as she is expected to be “disabled” for at least one year or until death.

One Mother’s Struggle, Millions Needing Assistance

Elizabeth is just one of millions of people who are struggling with physical and mental health issues on a daily basis, so debilitating that they are unable to keep or find a job.  Unfortunately, not every one of those people “qualifies” for assistance.  Filing for SSD is a lengthy, frustrating, and complicated process with strict guidelines that are based upon how much work you have performed throughout your life (and paid into Social Security) and if your disability falls within the List of Impairments.  Monthly SSD benefits can range from $300 to $2,200 with the average 2013 payment being about $1,132.  For many recipients, the benefits they receive are barely enough to get by and for others, not even enough to meet a “living wage”.

The 2013 National Poverty Guidelines for a Household of 1 is $11,490.  If a single parent with a child or a couple received the “average” monthly SSD payment they would fall below the poverty line for a 2 person household ($15,510).  Depending on where you live, how you live, and what you need, will determine if you are receiving a livable wage.

Promising News for the New Year

Starting in the 2014, some recipients will see a 1.5% increase in SSD benefits.  For some struggling recipients, this will be the boost they need offering a little financial cushioning while others will continue to struggle with their disability and trying to make ends meet.  Individuals, who have once worked hard to try to make a living wage, but have all of a sudden been thrown a “curveball” (like a disability), deserve and are entitled to financial assistance.  If you are disabled and are no longer able to work, will you file for benefits you deserve or suffer your financial, physical, and mental struggle in silence?

Boomers: Have You Planned for Retirement?

Boomers Have You Planned For RetirementCompared to retirees of just a generation ago, older Americans are staying in the workforce longer, and they’re returning to the workforce post-retirement in higher numbers, too. The shift began slowly in the late 1990’s when the labor force started to see an influx of post-retirees looking for work, but accelerated, in part, due to the recession of 2007. The ever increasing cost of living, combined with the negative impact the recession had on investments and home values, meant that SSI/SSD simply wasn’t enough to cover the bills. That left many retirees with no choice but to go back to work.

Though many retirees who were financially pressured to return to work were already receiving monthly social security insurance benefits, some may not have been aware that there were ways they could have increased the amount they received prior to retirement. Had they known, some may not have had to return to work, could have returned to work for a shorter period of time, or could have returned to work but worked fewer hours. If you are planning for retirement, here are a few tips you can use to ensure you receive the maximum SSI benefits available to you so you can avoid returning to work, if possible.

  • Make it Count: Start by confirming that your earnings are being properly reported so you’ll know the taxes that you’re paying into the system are being credited to you. A paystub will give you information, but only by downloading your earnings statement from the Social Security website can you verify that the information on the paystub was correctly reported. 
  • Claim Delay: This isn’t an attractive option, and for some it may be impossible. But, if you are able to delay claiming social security benefits until the age of 70, your SSI benefits will increase by 8 percent for each year you delay the claim after you reach full retirement age. 
  • 35 Years: Since SSI benefits are calculated using the beneficiaries highest 35 years of wages earned, you’ll want to make sure that you work for at least 35 years. Otherwise, zeroes will be averaged in, and that will lower your benefit amount. 
  • Claim Twice: Married couples who have reached retirement age can claim spousal benefits and then switch to payments using their individual work record (once they reach 70). That way, the benefits will increase because of the delay in claiming benefits until after the age of 70. 

Post-retirement Benefits

For anyone who is currently planning their retirement, but is unsure how their SSI benefits might be impacted if they do decide to continue working, the rules are pretty straightforward. As long as you work until full retirement age, you can still receive the full benefit amount to which you are entitled, no matter how much money you earn post-retirement. However, if you claim SSI benefits prior to reaching full retirement age, your benefits could be reduced, depending on your earned income.

The Social Security Administration also reviews the earnings of SSI recipients annually. So, if a beneficiary worked during the previous year and those earnings reflect one of his highest years, the SSI benefits will be recalculated to reflect an increase.

Just as with SSI recipients, if you receive SSD benefits, you can also work, but there are income and time limits. Whether you live in Reno, Rochester, or Raleigh, SSD terms are the same and, like SSI rules, they apply to everyone.

 

With so many older Americans working past retirement age, and returning to work once they have retired, it’s important to know where you stand with Social Security benefits. Educating yourself about the ways to maximize your monthly SSI payment may not completely eliminate your need to work, but you may be able to work less and for a shorter period of time, so you can finally enjoy your retirement once and for all.

 

 

Lawsuits for Injuries to Children: What You Should Know

child injuryOne of the most frightening moments for any parent is to learn that his or her child has been injured in an accident.  The overwhelming hope is that the injury is minor and that the child is not in pain.  Unfortunately, there are occasions where the injury to the child is serious, requiring medical attention, surgery, and in some cases, long-term care.  The medical expenses can become significant, causing financial stress on the entire family.  However, in cases where the child’s injury was the result of another person’s negligence such as in a car accident or where there was a medical mistake, the child may be able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.  However, when a child is the victim, there are special rules that must be considered.

Statute of Limitations

While the statute of limitations varies from state to state, in general a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within 1-3 years of the date of the injury or the date that the victim should have known about the injury.  For example, in Georgia a negligence lawsuit must be brought within 2 years from the date of the injury or death.  Georgia actions for medical malpractice also have a statute of limitations of 2 years.  The rule, however, is usually different when a child is the victim.  Children are considered incapacitated.  Thus, the limitations period is tolled, or put on hold.  In some cases it is tolled until the victim is no longer under an incapacity.  This usually means that the statute does not begin to run until the child turns 18.

The Plaintiff in the Lawsuit

Even though the statute of limitations for a child victim is tolled until the child reaches majority, the child does not have to wait  to file a personal injury lawsuit.  However, until the child reaches majority, he or she would not be permitted to file the lawsuit in his or her own name.  Instead, someone else, such as a parent, would have to file the lawsuit on the child’s behalf.  The person filing the lawsuit is referred to as the child’s “next friend.”  Any damages won in such a lawsuit would belong to the child, not the next friend.

Claims for Economic Damages and Non-Economic Damages

A child typically does not pay his or her own medical bills and is not responsible for them.  Parents are responsible for their children’s medical expenses.  Thus, if a child is injured and incurs medical bills, the child cannot sue to recover them.  The parents must.   Because of this, legal action concerning an injured child can be divided into two different claims.  The child’s claim would relate to pain and suffering and any other non-economic losses.  The parents’ claim would be for the medical expenses and other economic losses. The child’s claims and the parent’s claims can be joined together in a single lawsuit, or could be heard separately.  In either case there will be two verdicts, and if the plaintiffs prevail, two monetary awards.  In addition, there would also be two different statutes of limitations in the cases, as one claim belongs to the child and the other to the parents.

Access to Settlement Funds

Judgments awarded to a child are typically held by the court on behalf of the child until the child reaches majority.  Or the funds are placed in a trust for the benefit of the child.  Parents rarely have access to such funds.  However, parents do have ownership of financial awards for claims for economic damages, such as medical expenses.

Do  you think a child’s recovery for pain and suffering in a personal injury case should always be higher than a similarly injured adult, since a child is likely to suffer more pain than an adult and have more difficulty coping with it?

What We Can Learn From Celebrity Divorces

Celebrity DivorceThese days, it seems as if more and more couples are getting divorced. This is especially true when it comes to celebrities, whose marriages—and break-ups—are often front-page news. While some individuals believe that celebrities serve only as a form of entertainment, others suggest that couples may be able to learn something from their frequent divorces. In fact, celebrities may not only teach us how to keep a marriage stable, but also how to separate in a peaceful and respectful manner.

Communication is Crucial

If celebrities have taught us anything when it comes to maintaining a happy marriage, it is that communication is crucial. Proper communication not only helps individuals teach their partner about their wants and needs, but also assists when it comes to the development of stronger listening skills. Unfortunately, celebrities—and for that matter, non-celebrities—have the habit of demanding their desires, without considering those of their partner. Talking each and every day with one’s husband or wife is a must when it comes to managing expectations and maintaining a long and happy marriage together.

Take Your Time

There is no question that the prospect of getting married can be very exciting—especially when one believes that they are deeply in love with their partner. However, it seems as if many celebrities choose to “jump into” marriage before they have a strong understanding of the traits and personalities of their partner. Most marriage experts agree that men and women should take their time when it comes to getting to know their significant other before choosing to pursue a legal commitment. When it can be difficult to prolong the dating process, it may be crucial when it comes to avoiding divorce in the future.

Know When It’s Over

Despite the best efforts of many celebrities, some marriages simply weren’t made to last. And when a couple agrees that the end is near, they may also benefit by looking to celebrities for some tips and recommendations. While many celebrities do try to put on a good front for the sake of their fans and children, this may not be the best plan when it comes to the health of their family. In fact, the Huffington Post suggests that trying to keep a marriage together simply for the sake of children may actually do more harm than good in the long run.

Lawyers Aren’t All Bad

Finally, celebrity divorces have shown us that—despite their less than stellar reputation—many lawyers are not as bad as they are depicted. In fact, experts agree that having an experienced lawyer who is familiar with family law is crucial when it comes to surviving and thriving during the divorce process. Individuals who have never worked with a lawyer in the past may want to consider speaking with friends and family to identify a skilled and professional legal team. Interviewing a lawyer before making a financial commitment can be useful when it comes to finding the right professional for the job.

Bankruptcy: Watch out for the Marital Adjustment Deduction

divorce and bankruptcyWhen a person who is married decides to file for bankruptcy, the law permits him or her to do so alone, without requiring both spouses to file.  However, the non-filing spouse’s finances do play part in the filing spouse’s bankruptcy case.  The “means test,” including the “marital adjustment deduction” will be evaluated to determine whether or not the filing spouse qualifies for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or to determine the amount the filing spouse will have to pay unsecured creditors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The Means Test

Even though you may feel that the only way out of your dire financial situation is to file for bankruptcy, a Westchester county bankruptcy lawyer points out that under the strict rules of the bankruptcy code, you may not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.  In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy,  the debtor essentially tells the court that he or she is unable to pay back any part of the debt owed to creditors.  In order to qualify, you must pass a “means test,” meaning that your disposable income must be below a certain level.  If you do not pass the means test, then under bankruptcy law you are presumed able to pay back at least a minimum amount of your debt, and you will not be permitted to proceed with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  As part of the means test the bankruptcy court will look at your last 6 months of income as well as your expenses.  Thus, even if you have a high income, if your expenses are also high, your may still qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you are married, but separated and living in separate households, the income of your non-filing spouse will not be taken into consideration for the means test. However, if you are married, then your spouse’s income will be taken into consideration for the means test.  This could have a significant impact on the filing spouses’ Chapter 7 petition.  If the non-filing spouse’s income is too high, then you may not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  In this is so then the “marital adjustment deduction” may help.

The Marital Adjustment Deduction

As part of the means test, you are permitted to deduct expenses from your income.  The “Marital Adjustment Deduction” allows you to deduct any expenses that your spouse pays that are not normal household expenses.  These “other” expenses are known as “marital deduction expenses.”  Examples of marital deduction expenses can include credit card payments for accounts that are only in your spouses’ name, child support payment for your spouse’s child, business expenses, student loan payments, and payroll deductions.  The net result of using the marital adjustment deduction is that if significant, it may offset at least some of your spouse’s income that you had to include in the means test.  Thus, you may still be able to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy even though your spouse’s income is relatively high.

Alternative to Chapter 7

If after applying the marital adjustment deduction you still do not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be permitted to file under Chapter 13. While all of your debt will not be discharged, the total amount you repay your creditors will likely be significantly reduced and you will have 3-5 years to make the payments.   However, you will still have to disclose your spouse’s income and expenses, which may affect the total amount you have to repay your creditors.

The importance of Full Disclosure

Ultimately, both your complete financial picture and that of your spouse will likely be closely reviewed by the bankruptcy court to determine how the law will allow you to proceed with your bankruptcy.  Thus, it is important to be prepared with evidence backing up all claims regarding income and expenses, or risk having your case dismissed.  An even worse result would be having the bankruptcy court determine that you have committed or attempted to commit fraud.

Do you think it is fair that a non-filing spouse’s finances are considered when a married person files for bankruptcy?  What if throughout the marriage the couple’s finances remained largely separate?  Does this rule encourage spouses to legally separate or “pretend” to separate?

Literature on Divorce for Older Children

divorce lawApproximately half of marriages, in the United States, end in divorce.  While not every married couple has children, it can be assumed that a large number of children are faced with their parents’ divorce each year.  When parents decide to divorce it is their responsibility, for the well-being of their child, to discuss the divorce with their child.  Many parents seek out additional resources, such as books, to make their discussion a bit easier or to answer questions that may be hard to answer on their own.  There is a plethora of books for younger children, specifically between the ages of 4 – 9, that are specifically written about divorce.  Many of the books are picture books with colorful illustrations concentrating on using simple concepts and a discussion of emotions.  Aside from “self-help” type of books, there are fewer books on divorce available for pre-teen and adolescent children.  While the needs of an older child are different from young children, a book addressing divorce can be helpful to an older reader.

Stereotypically, girls are most often classified as “readers”.  Much of the pre-teen and adolescent fiction and non-fiction literature discussing divorce has female protagonists or themes aimed at young women.  Parents of pre-teen and adolescent boys may need to search a bit more, but there are books with adolescent boys as the protagonists dealing with family issues like divorce.

Homesick, a 2012 release by Kate Klise, is a novel with a young male protagonist, appropriate for readers between 9 and 12 years old.  The main character, Benny, lives with his parents who have separated.  His mother has left the family and his father has hoarding issues.  Many readers may connect with Benny and the pressure and need to be responsible in his crumbling home life.  Reflected in a Kirkus Review, “Benny gets a job at the local radio station to scrape together money to pay the phone bill so he can stay in touch with his mother. She’s planning to get settled and return for him at the end of the school year, but Benny’s dad is spiraling downward fast.”

While Benny’s scenario may seem “too big to be true”, children of divorced parents may relate to Benny’s situation and his feelings.  Sometimes a story, bigger than their own, might make a child feel better about their own situation.

Children, of any age, may benefit from tools, such as literature, when dealing with divorce in their family.  Parents and children can connect through literature and gain a better understanding about divorce.  Literature can remind children, of any age, that divorce is not their fault, not their responsibility, and despite the situation, a parent’s love still remains before, during and after the divorce.

For more information about divorce please visit the website of Charles Ullman, a Cary, NC Divorce Lawyer at divorcelawnc.com.

Business Owners: Who Will Take the Helm Once You’re Gone?

Succession Planning
Succession Planning

Running a business is a difficult task that often requires hard work and a great deal of planning. Often, it can take years—or even decades—to get a business off and ground and ensure its success. It should come as no surprise, then, that business owners who are successful want to maintain the quality of their organization by identifying a skilled successor. Working with a group of professionals can be crucial when it comes to effective succession planning for an experienced businessman or woman.

What is Succession Planning?

Understanding the basics of succession planning is crucial for those who really want to achieve success with this important task. As one might guess from the name, success planning occurs when a business owner pinpoints one or more individuals who will take control of the company in question, pending the retirement, incapacitation, or death of the owner. Succession planning is not only important for the mentality of employees, but also ensures that the organization will continue to run smoothly as it changes hands. While it can be tempting to wait until the later years of life to consider succession planning, starting early is generally considered to be a better option.

Choosing a Successor

Choosing a successor is often considered to be the first step when it comes to effective succession planning. According to Forbes, a family member is not always the best choice when it comes to handing over the business. Similarly, just because one individual has served as “second in command” for the last few years does not mean that he or she has what it takes to actually run the organization successfully. Instead, business owners should carefully identify their current staff and determine who has what it takes to successfully steer the company in its desired direction in the future.

Serving as a Mentor

While choosing a successor is the first step of succession planning, it is far from the last. In fact, once a successor has been chosen, the hard part has just begun! To ensure optimal results in the success of the business, current owners should serve as a “mentor” to the individual or individuals who have been slated to take over the company down the line. Providing day-to-day tips—as well as long-term recommendations and instructions—can be effective when it comes to ensuring a smooth transition.

Obtaining Assistance in Success Planning

Running a business on one’s own can be difficult, if not all-out impossible. Similarly, business owners often require a great deal of assistance from other professionals when it comes to the challenging task of creating a succession plan for the future. Current business owners should work with a legal team, accountants, and even human resource professionals to maximize their efforts when it comes to this daunting activity. Consultation with other businessmen and women may also prove to be beneficial when it comes to deciding just what route to take with long-term business succession planning.

How to Identify Police Misconduct

police brutalityPolice officers play an important role in our world. These professionals not only provide support and assistance during times of emergency, but also help to keep the community safe for all who live within it. While most police officers take their roles quite seriously, some have been known to participate in inappropriate behavior—often referred to as police misconduct. Understanding how to identify police misconduct is crucial for those who want to maintain their rights, while still staying within the good graces of law enforcement professionals.

 

Police Brutality

According to the US Department of Justice, police brutality is one of the most common signs that misconduct is taking place. Except for the in the most severe cases, police have even training and tools at their fingertips to complete their jobs without depending on brute strength. It is important to note that while police brutality is most commonly thought of as physical aggressive, verbal threats and sexual abuse may also fall under this category. Those who have experienced these events are likely the victim of police misconduct, and should report the behavior as soon as possible.

Selective Enforcement

Selective enforcement is another common signs of police misconduct. As suggested by the name, selective enforcement occurs when a police officer does not enforce certain laws or regulations when they are intimately connected with the person or person accused of committing the violation. The most common example of selective enforcement usually occurs in regards to traffic law—for example, a police officer chooses not to issue a citation to a friend or family member that he or she has pulled over for speeding. While it may be highly tempting to simply let these individuals off with a warning, it is actually a serious case of police misconduct.

 

Lying Under Oath

There are a number of police rights that are enforced in courtrooms and other law enforcement arenas around the world. However, these rights are only maintained in cases where the officer “plays by the rules” and maintain professionalism within the role that they have been given. Unfortunately, this is not always the case—in fact, some officers go so far as to lie under oath, in order to get the final outcome that they desire. As with the other factors described so far in this article, lying under oath is a serious sign of police misconduct, which should not be taken lightly.

 

Using Drugs/Alcohol While on Duty

As one might guess, police officers that use drugs or alcohol while on duty are also likely practicing police misconduct. Any officer of the law is expected to be clean and sober, as they may have to respond to a dangerous event at any given moment. Officers who have been found to be using drugs or alcohol while on the job may be placed on probation for an extended period of time. Regular blood and urine tests may be required if and when their role as a police officer is reinstated.

Signs that a Nursing Home is Being Negligent

elder neglectWe’ve always been told to “respect our elders”, but looking at the news and hearing the horrific stories of elder abuse, it’s clear that not everyone holds elders in high regards.  Elderly individuals, over the age of 60, are at higher risk for maltreatment and such elderly neglect takes place everywhere, but most often in the nursing home setting.  In nursing homes, residents are vulnerable as they often rely on others (such as nursing aides) to assist them with everyday living.  Unfortunately, many elders are physically, mentally, sexually, financially exploited, making them victims of a large and sometimes “silent” problem, elder abuse.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 500,000 older adults (aged 60 +), in the U.S., are believed to be abused or neglected each year.  However, the startling and overwhelming statistics are most likely underestimated due to the number of elder abuse that is not reported.  Like many abuse victims, many elders are unable or afraid to report the abuse to police, family, friends, or others who can protect them.  Family and friends who have a loved one in a nursing home facility should stay involved, informed, and be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior in either the resident or a worker.

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse in a Nursing Home

When visiting a friend or family member in a nursing home pay attention to the way he/she looks and acts.  If you suspect elder abuse, report it.  Protect seniors by bringing suspected abuse to the attention of the appropriate authorities such as a local adult protective services agency.  Many people are afraid to report suspected abuse because they fear they might be wrong, but if you don’t report suspicious activity, your elderly loved one could continue to be abused and in worse cases, die because of the abuse.  Take action and report if you see, hear, or suspect the warning signs of neglect in a nursing home:

–          Your loved one might be Financially exploited if:

  • He/she has a lack of affordable amenities and comforts in their room.
  • Uncharacteristic or excessive giving of gifts or financial reimbursement for care and companionship.
  • The victim is not getting proper care to fulfill needs, even if money is available for such costs.
  • Has made legal or monetary transactions, but does not understand what they mean.

 

–          Your loved one may be a victim of physical or emotional abuse if he/she:

  • Has inadequately explained fractures, bruises, welts, cuts, sores, or burns
  • Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unexplained or uncharacteristic changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from normal activities, or unexplained changes in alertness
  • Caregiver is verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling, or uncaring

 

–          Your loved elder may be a victim of overall Neglect if he/she:

  • Lack of basic hygiene or appropriate clothing
  • Lack of food and basic needs
  • Lack of medical aids such as glasses, dentures, medication, hearing aids.
  • An individual with dementia is left unsupervised
  • An individual confined in bed is lacking care
  • The room is cluttered or dirty or in need of repairs and lacks amenities
  • Untreated bed sores or pressure ulcers (indication of lack of care)

Elder abuse and neglect in a nursing home affects thousands of innocent senior citizens each year.  Many suffer in silence because they are unable to communicate and they live in fear.  Be the voice for neglected elders.  Respect your elders; don’t turn your back on them.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Going Bankrupt

bankrupt

Believe it or not, people who go bankrupt do enjoy some advantages. Bankruptcy, in fact, exists so that people who make a mistake financially don’t have their entire life ruined for the rest of their existence. It gives people an opportunity to get a fresh start, to do things right and, after the bankruptcy has gotten off of their credit report, to start rebuilding their credit without having to repair a tremendous amount of damage that they may have caused in their youth. There are disadvantages to going bankrupt, as well, and you want to take these into account if you’re considering filing for bankruptcy.

Collectors Go Away

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, it’s likely that your phone is ringing off the hook with collection agents trying to get money out of you. One of the advantages of filing for bankruptcy is that you get a stay order against those collectors. Until your bankruptcy is resolved, those collectors cannot bother you about the bills you have with them without contacting the court first.

While this may seem like a small benefit from the outside, it is a huge benefit. It allows you to get time to consider your situation, to put together your bankruptcy claim and to not be constantly stressed by people who are reminding you incessantly of debt about which you are already well aware.

Keep Your Home

There are accommodations that allow people to stay in their homes if they declare bankruptcy. This can allow you time to get back in the good graces of your mortgage holder and ensure that you don’t end up out on the street. For some families, this is absolutely the best move possible.

Disadvantages

There are basically two types of bankruptcy that individuals can file for: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of the existing debt that you have is liquidated, except for those debts that are guaranteed. Student loans, for instance, do not go away. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you still pay off your debts, but you pay them off through the courts at a rate that is affordable for you.

The disadvantage to both of these types of bankruptcy is that they do stay on your credit report. It can make it much more difficult for you to get lending and, in some cases, to even get an apartment. Compared to having your wages garnished to pay back credit cards with ridiculous interest rates or other unsecured debts, however, bankruptcy may actually be preferable.

Talking to an attorney who handles bankruptcy law is the best way to determine whether or not it’s time for you to go ahead and file bankruptcy.