What Can I Do to Deal With the Student Loan Judgment?


Dear Steve,

I had a Teri loan when I was in school 16 years ago I became disabled, and I was not able to pay it off the original loan was only for $8,500 well, I made the mistake of listening to a bad credit counselor who told me just to ignore it until 2015 they said it would come off my credit and don’t worry about it.

Well, three years later, in 2018 they sued me, and a stupid judge signed off on it for judgment and they added $6,000 to it saying I owed over $15,000. I went to court to try to have something done being as I’m disabled and the judge wouldn’t help me I’ve been getting my wages garnished from my part-time job for a year and a half.

I’ve paid them over $2,000. I thought by now I would only owe around 12 or 13 thousand and I just called them, and they’re saying I now owe seventeen five because they’re adding four point seven five percent interest every year, so at this rate, I’m never going to pay it off is there any way I can go get a lawyer who will help me?

What kind of a judge would sign a judgment knowing that it’s never going to be able to get paid off by someone on disability when they’re charging that much interest every year?

This is ridiculous; it’s like I’ve been throwing away money for nothing if they’re going to keep adding $2,000 every year I am on my own, and I do not have help. I’m disabled, and I work part-time only because I have to because I can’t pay my bills on SSDI alone, and I’m barely surviving.

Is there any way to get out of this or at least get this ridiculous interest taken off?

I thought once a judgment, they couldn’t keep charging interest. I went to a lawyer for advice before the court last year, and she did not mention this. She also said if I am head of household, I can get it thrown out.

I went to court and said I’m head of household, and the judge said since I’m not taking care of anyone that I am not head of household.

If I had my elderly mother move in with me, and I care for her, would that help me here at all? (I was always under the impression after 15 years they cannot come after you for debts) this happened in 2005 loan and they went to court in 2015 10 years later. I thought it was 7 years they can’t come after you?

And then I didn’t hear from them till 2018 about this judgment.

Shouldn’t there have been a statute of limitations since they waited 10 years to even go to court? Confused why a judge would sign this, I never got anything from them until 2019

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And I am in Florida

Can you tell me what to do now?



Dear Krissy,

Wow, there is a lot to deal with here. I should tackle the misperceptions first.

Statute of Limitations (SOL): You have to raise that as a defense if you are sued and point out to the court that the debt has exceeded the plaintiff’s legal right to sue you. People are sued every day for debt beyond the SOL and lose because they never raised that point during their court case.

Ignoring Student Loan: Ignoring the loan as a solution to the debt is not a strategy. There are times when ignoring the loan can make sense, but that’s only when there is an end game and plan. For example, defaulting on a private student loan debt can be an acceptable risk if the lender will settle and the debtor is prepared for unfortunate possibilities if the lender does not agree to settle.

Judgment Charging Interest: The interest rate you mentioned, 4.75% is a valid judgment rate. Here is the historical judgment interest rate list.

What Kind of Judge Would Agree?: It is a common misperception that the judge rules on commonsense and fairness. In fact, the judge is looking to enforce the law. If there was a suit, you lost, and the plaintiff asked for a judgment, it would be granted. The ability to pay is not relevant at all. Creditors go for judgments all the time when people can’t pay because at some point in the future they may be able to.

Another Reason for the Judgment: In Florida, a judgment may last for 20-years. But like everything else with the law, there is often more than one way to look at an issue. This is why it is so important to get legal advice and legal representation if a creditor sues you. Creditors pay for attorneys to sue consumers. The creditor attorney knows the law. The consumer has no experience with the law and doesn’t know what they can do to represent themselves.

It sounds like you went to an attorney that gave you some advice but did not represent you in court. You were at a disadvantage when the judge raised a question or made a statement that you had no legal training to deal with.

I am not an attorney, but I’m a pretty good researcher. It would help if you spoke to an attorney licensed in Florida for legal advice.

Here is what I did find about exemptions from wage garnishment in Florida. It appears that while a “head of family” may be exempt from judgment, there are limits on that. For example, “All of the disposable earnings of a head of family whose disposable earnings are less than or equal to $750 a week are exempt from attachment or garnishment.” Additionally, “Disposable earnings of a head of a family, which are greater than $750 a week, may not be attached or garnished unless such person has agreed otherwise in writing.”

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However, the following definition applies – “Head of family” includes any natural person who is providing more than one-half of the support for a child or other dependent. – Source

Only you can answer if you want to have your mother move in with you and use your limited income to support her. You will still have to go back to court to stop the garnishment.

Here is What You Can Do

Hopefully, I’ve corrected some of the incorrect assumptions that led you to this point. So let’s tackle the issue as it stands today.

It might be possible to legally discharge the judgment, but you would need to talk to a licensed bankruptcy attorney in Florida. I don’t know where you live but one attorney is Chad Van Horn. He is in South Florida but his office might be able to give you a recommendation near where you live.

Your income may be exempt from garnishment if it is all SSDI or benefit income. I would suggest you talk to the nonprofit law firm, HELPS. They provide low-cost legal advice to seniors and people with disabilities.

Bottom Line

It appears the process just rolled over you. You had bad advice along the way or it was misapplied. The past is now the past and not worth trying to go back and unwind. Instead, I hope you will take some action to address the situation from the point you are at today.

Please let me know what you decide to do by posting a comment below.

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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.
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