Debt and Protected Income
Creditors often give people wrong information about what they can collect. Creditors frequently call and send notices, causing many people to fear they will be charged criminally for not paying their bills. Legal Aid can help people, often seniors and persons with disabilities, deal with these types of creditors through its Debt and Protected Income Project. If you are eligible for the Debt and Protected Income Project, you do not need to file bankruptcy and you do not have to fear that your money or assets will be taken by creditors.
You are eligible for the Debt and Protected Income Project if your only income is from a protected source and you do not own your home or plan to work full time again. Types of protected income include social security, SSI, SSDI, and veterans’ benefits. These income sources cannot be taken out of a bank account by a creditor. If your only income is from a protected source, you are considered “judgment proof.” “Judgment proof” means that creditors cannot take your income under the law. For eligible clients, Legal Aid will provide a sample letter that can be sent to creditors to notify them that the individual is “judgment proof.” Often, when the creditors are notified, they stop calling and they stop trying to collect. Many clients say that it feels as if a weight is lifted once the creditors stop calling and stop trying to collect.
Additionally, federal law protects individuals who make less than minimum wage by limiting the amount of earnings that may be taken in any workweek. In Ohio, the first $217.50 from each weekly paycheck cannot be taken by creditors, even if they have a judgment from the court. Therefore, if you have debt, but earn very little money, filing for bankruptcy may not be the best choice. People can only file a personal bankruptcy once every eight years and you should only do so when it will be to your greatest advantage.
If you think the Debt and Protected Income Project can help you, call Legal Aid at 1-888-817-3777 to apply for help.