Unemployed, Heart Attack, Stroke and Retired Mother Paying My Student Loans. – Jackie

“Dear Steve,

My husband and I filed Bankruptcy # 7 back in 2011, Most of the bills were medical but I added my student loan (Chase- Bank One) which Ive been told is a private loan. Everything was discharged except the student loan. I even sent a Hardship letter but it was after the hearing and I feel that maybe it was too late.

Since 2011, I was unemployed for 7 months. I moved to another state to look for work. My husband has had 3 heart attacks and one stroke all in a 2 year period. Since the bankruptcy my husbands numerous hospital visits has now run up into hundred of thousands of dollars. His doctor will not authorize him to work so he has been out of work now for 6 months.

I am now unemployed as of Feb 2013. The cosigner for my loan is his mother who is 71 retired and not in good health herself. She has been paying on the loan for the past year. I feel horrible because it comes from her Social Security. She also filed bankruptcy in 2011 but the student loan still exists. Please help us.

My question is: Can I get my Student Loan Discharged? Is there any hope for us? We are in a major struggle financially. Is there a way for us to get another hearing so that we can be cleared? Please let me know.


Dear Jackie,

Drowning swimmerThanks for asking your question.

When things get stabilized again it looks like we’ll need to deal with all the medical debt with another bankruptcy most likely.

More people are discharging their student loans but it is still a difficult process. Research has found people who are most likely to be able to discharge their debts meet the following criteria.

  1. Less likely to be employed.
  2. More likely to have a medical hardship.
  3. More likely to have lower annual incomes the year before they filed for bankruptcy.

It is still tough even if you meet those criteria because most bankruptcy attorneys don’t want to try or don’t know what to do. The research data shows that if your bankruptcy attorney is willing to file an adversarial proceeding against the student loan lender in your bankruptcy there is about a 50-50 chance of you getting some type of relief from the private student loans.

But there may be some other options here to help your mother not have to bear the burden anymore. If you mother’s sole income is social security and she has not other real assets to speak of she might just want to stop paying.

When she does that the student loan will default again and collectors will have a hissy fit but your mother’s income most likely will not be able to be garnished. At the very least this would lessen her burden.

And then the most logical way to handle to student loan is to wait till you get reemployed and then consider filling a chapter 13 bankruptcy. That will control the payment, fees, and stop collections. It will also help you both to deal with the medical debt that is growing out of control.

The easiest way to get private student loan debt discharged in bankruptcy is if the loans are outside the statute of limitations and in that case discharge in bankruptcy is pretty straightforward.

You’d need to talk to an attorney that is licensed in your state about what the statute of limitations is for that debt.

The laws have to change as more people become overloaded with private student loan debt. While they are not going to change this year, a chapter 13 bankruptcy to deal with the student loans buys you five years of peace.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section 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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