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Home > Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts > My Husband is Disabled, the Medical Bills are Growing, and I Feel Like a Low-life for Considering Bankruptcy. – Tracy

My Husband is Disabled, the Medical Bills are Growing, and I Feel Like a Low-life for Considering Bankruptcy. – Tracy

“Dear Steve,

I work full time and my husband is disabled. We have unsecured debt of approximately $50,000 not including my student loans which are about $10,000. My husbands medical bills and increased cost of living have driven us deeper and deeper into debt over the last few years. I manage to keep all of our bills paid on time but each month have to put necessities on our credit cards.

Most of our cards have lowered our limit to what we owe and we are nearly out of credit at which point things will begin to slip into past due. Now I received a letter from the lender on our large unsecured loan ($31,000) and they are changing our interest rate to a variable from a fixed and this will increase our monthly minimum due but will not increase our repayment term. This will sink us.

I feel like a complete lowlife for considering bankruptcy, but I don’t know what else to do. Our annual income between us is only about $40,000 and with all of the medical costs and high cost of electric/gas/groceries/etc we are sinking fast. Is Chapter 7 the best solution?

Each month I have to charge necessities to make ends meet due to high medical costs for my disabled husband and our huge credit card/loan debt, is bankruptcy the right solution?

Tracy”

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The Answer

 

Dear Tracy,

In short, yes, bankruptcy is an appropriate solution for you to consider in this situation.

Let’s step back and take a look at your situation. The most important issues here are variables you have no power or control over. You can’t will your husband to be better or for his medical care requirements to be different. You also can wish or will the creditors to change how they have sought to deal with your debt.

I seriously doubt that you set yourself off on an intentional path to reach this point. You can blame yourself all you want but I’ve been helping people for so many years and seen so many different situations that I known deep down that bad debt happens to good people all the time.

So let’s talk about bankruptcy for a moment. Bankruptcy is the law. it is a legal process sanctioned by our country and government as a way to allow people to have a fresh start when buried below a landfill of debt they can never service.

I’m not saying that going bankrupt should not give you pause. Nor should you go bankrupt and think its a party. But everyone but you has factored your potential bankruptcy into the process. Your creditors priced the credit they extended to you based on risk and guess what part of that risk included, that’s right, bankruptcy. Your creditors know that lending is a risky game and they are big boys and girls.

So let’s look at why you might not want to go bankrupt. You think that only losers and low-lifes go bankrupt. Well that’s just not true. In fact, I find it terribly ironic that large corporations are praised for going bankrupt to reorganize their finances but consumers are made to feel like shit.

All of those negative feelings circling your head are self-judgments. The only reason your creditors or debt collectors will call you names is to manipulate you to pay, not judge you. Those folks don’t have two seconds a day to judge other people. Besides, the people calling, it’s not their money. They are being paid to do a job, collect.

I would argue with you that at this stage you have a greater responsibility to create an immediate and safer future for you and your husband then keep pouring money down a drain trying to repair the past.

My advice would be for you to absorb what I’ve said, find a local bankruptcy attorney you like, make an appointment to go in and talk face-to-face and then contemplate if bankruptcy is right for you.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

Big Hug!

My Husband is Disabled, the Medical Bills are Growing, and I Feel Like a Low life for Considering Bankruptcy.   Tracy
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P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

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My Husband is Disabled, the Medical Bills are Growing, and I Feel Like a Low-life for Considering Bankruptcy. - Tracy by

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Janbell98

    Hi Dana,
    I hope you have someone to talk to also. My husband is stuck in the hospital. They told my our insurance won’t cover any of his costs there and he has been there since February 5, 2011. He is unsafe to come home due to delusions and the possibilty of becoming violent. It is very scary. I met a lady who purposely became homeless with her children several years ago. The choice had a very traumatic affect on her and her children. I hope you can access some sort of support and resources. I wish I had something to suggest. I have been reading about applying for SSD and see what you mean about the timelines. It appears that my husband missed out on starting the process and is no longer eligible. I hope you find some people who can keep encouraging you in the disability process.
    Jan

  • Dana

    Tracy, I would like to know how you are doing now. Your post sounded just like me. We waited way too long to file for disability for my husband because we thought he would recover. Now we are in a holding pattern waiting on the SSI hearing. I have quit paying for anything but the necessaties, I have cashed in my 401k, all college savings are gone and we are in debt over our heads. My husband spends his days crying and so do I. I am in jeopardy of losing my job due to depression but I won’t even spend the money on meds for me. Everything goes for him and his needs. My kids feel neglected. If the disability came through soon, I think we could recover but the lawyers say it is around 3 years in TN and even though we are 6 years into him not being able to work, we didn’t get a lawyer until a year ago. By the time it comes through, I will need to file for myself due to the neglect I have put my body through. The only phone I have is my work phone and the credit card companies are calling it constantly. I don’t answer so I miss important work calls. The only bright spot in my life is I have lost 30lbs because I don’t spend $ on food for myself. I will eat the kid’s leftovers if there are any. Our cars are falling apart. We used to be upper middle class and now living under a bridge sounds like a better life than what I have. Our disability attorney said they could handle the bankruptcy, too. But I don’t know if I have the time or energy to do what you are doing. Between working full time and taking care of him and the kids (he can’t drive so I have to take him to all drs appts), I get 5 hrs of sleep on a good night. There may be no one still on this post but I just felt like I needed to say all this somewhere. I just don’t know how to keep going. Right now I hate TN. They auto-decline disability and delay the hearings to try and filter out the “fakers”. In the end, instead of one person on disability, there will be 2 (if he lives to see his). If there are any TN lawmakers reading – you won! We are stripped to nothing. I have two kids that will never be the same. We have both worked hard all our lives. He started when he was 6 years old on a farm. I started as soon as I was out of high school and have never taken time off other than maternity leave and a few vacation days. His denial letters were a joke. They named every part of his body as a part of his body he could not use and then stated that he couldn’t interact with others but indicated he could work, HA! He had a failed spinal fusion, has had multiple shoulder and arm surgeries, needs a hip replacement, has a hernia, needs foot surgery and has PTSD because they told him he had lung cancer in both lungs and had at most 5 months to live. That was 5 years ago. All that and I most likely missed some things – those were just the things off the top of my head. For the “cancer”, they put him on an anti-biotic that cost $400 for a 5 day supply after the 4th round, I begged them to change it and they refused. I finally took him to another dr to find out he had pneumonia which they were mis-treating. Two rounds of Z-pack cleared it up. Sorry for the venting but I just got the call that I had to come up with $110 for meds that I don’t have so I am sitting at my desk at work crying and I came across this site. Good luck to eveyone that is going through times like we are. I think there are more and more of us and that is a really scary thought.

  • Tracy

    Thanks Steve,
    The Craigslist idea is perfect. That will help alot. I am a little calmer today about the process. The next step is to figure out a fair value for my and my husbands vehicles which we own. They are both 10 years old and have high milage, past body damage, and some mechanical issues which we have not been able to afford to deal with because of our debt. Kelly Blue Book will be a big help with that.
    I want you to know that your advice has been such a blessing. It is so helpful to be able to talk to someone about all of this. You are very much appreciated.

    • Dana

      Tracy, I would like to know how you are doing now. Your post sounded just like me. We waited way too long to file for disability for my husband because we thought he would recover. Now we are in a holding pattern waiting on the SSI hearing. I have quit paying for anything but the necessaties, I have cashed in my 401k, all college savings are gone and we are in debt over our heads. My husband spends his days crying and so do I. I am in jeopardy of losing my job due to depression but I won’t even spend the money on meds for me. Everything goes for him and his needs. My kids feel neglected. If the disability came through soon, I think we could recover but the lawyers say it is around 3 years in TN and even though we are 6 years into him not being able to work, we didn’t get a lawyer until a year ago. By the time it comes through, I will need to file for myself due to the neglect I have put my body through. The only phone I have is my work phone and the credit card companies are calling it constantly. I don’t answer so I miss important work calls. The only bright spot in my life is I have lost 30lbs because I don’t spend $ on food for myself. I will eat the kid’s leftovers if there are any. Our cars are falling apart. We used to be upper middle class and now living under a bridge sounds like a better life than what I have. Our disability attorney said they could handle the bankruptcy, too. But I don’t know if I have the time or energy to do what you are doing. Between working full time and taking care of him and the kids (he can’t drive so I have to take him to all drs appts), I get 5 hrs of sleep on a good night. There may be no one still on this post but I just felt like I needed to say all this somewhere. I just don’t know how to keep going. Right now I hate TN. They auto-decline disability and delay the hearings to try and filter out the “fakers”. In the end, instead of one person on disability, there will be 2 (if he lives to see his). If there are any TN lawmakers reading – you won! We are stripped to nothing. I have two kids that will never be the same. We have both worked hard all our lives. He started when he was 6 years old on a farm. I started as soon as I was out of high school and have never taken time off other than maternity leave and a few vacation days. His denial letters were a joke. They named every part of his body as a part of his body he could not use and then stated that he couldn’t interact with others but indicated he could work, HA! He had a failed spinal fusion, has had multiple shoulder and arm surgeries, needs a hip replacement, has a hernia, needs foot surgery and has PTSD because they told him he had lung cancer in both lungs and had at most 5 months to live. That was 5 years ago. All that and I most likely missed some things – those were just the things off the top of my head. For the “cancer”, they put him on an anti-biotic that cost $400 for a 5 day supply after the 4th round, I begged them to change it and they refused. I finally took him to another dr to find out he had pneumonia which they were mis-treating. Two rounds of Z-pack cleared it up. Sorry for the venting but I just got the call that I had to come up with $110 for meds that I don’t have so I am sitting at my desk at work crying and I came across this site. Good luck to eveyone that is going through times like we are. I think there are more and more of us and that is a really scary thought.

      • Janbell98

        Hi Dana,
        I hope you have someone to talk to also. My husband is stuck in the hospital. They told my our insurance won’t cover any of his costs there and he has been there since February 5, 2011. He is unsafe to come home due to delusions and the possibilty of becoming violent. It is very scary. I met a lady who purposely became homeless with her children several years ago. The choice had a very traumatic affect on her and her children. I hope you can access some sort of support and resources. I wish I had something to suggest. I have been reading about applying for SSD and see what you mean about the timelines. It appears that my husband missed out on starting the process and is no longer eligible. I hope you find some people who can keep encouraging you in the disability process.
        Jan

  • Tracy

    I saw the attorney today and now I am really stressed out. How am I supposed to value all of my belongings? I don’t have a clue what is reasonable. I don’t want to underestimate and I don’t want to overestimate. How can I know the value of a 20 year old bedroom set or a 14 year old dining room table and chairs? And clothing…how do I estimate that? I don’t know where to start. The attorney fee is $1500 and $500 for court costs..minimum $500 retainer. I can pay that if I don’t pay my bills this month, but how will that look to a judge? I am further away from a decision than I was before I went to see this guy.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Tracy,

      It can be a stressful process. Nobody is going to ask you to provide certified values for these items. Just take a look on Craigslist and see if you can find out some selling prices for similar items. The attorney office should also be able to give you some reasonable values for clothing and stuff like that.

      The financial hurdle you face is the same as everyone has to deal with. One way people afford bankruptcy is to stop paying creditors that are included in the bankruptcy and use the money to pay the lawyer. It is what most people have to do and will be seen as a standard practice.

      This whole task is a process. The best approach is just to make a list of what you need to do to put all of this behind you and check off each step you accomplish. You’ll then see how much progress you are making.

      Steve

  • Tracy

    Thank you Steve for your advice. My husband and I are going to see an attorney this Friday. I will let you know how that goes.

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