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I am 65 and have about 5000 dollars in debt three or four years ago one credit card and three clothing store cards. I all so owe 7000 dollars in doctor bill from being sick dour months ago I don't have the money to pay any of this only receiving social security check

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Very interesting thanks for the info. I will try and file it in some of the empty spaces in my brain!
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Veronica - if your ? Is can the CC once it gets a judgement against you place a lien on your home, well the answer will totally depend on your state laws.

Some states -likeTX- have it so that your homestead is pretty sacred. Can't be touched or seized by creditors. Only the mortgage holder or a governmental entity or a workmans contract can place a lien or a claim against the property. So you default on mortgage, the mortgage co can do a foreclosure; but if you don't pay CC they can't do anything to the house. So you don't pay property tax, the tax assessor can put home up at annual tax sale; but if you don't pay the hospital bill, they can't do anything to the house.

Now TX for workmans claim to be filed on property for nonpayment of a bill has specifics. I don't know if all TX counties do it this way, but for my moms county the business has to have a valid contract signed by property owner, the signer has to be the name on file as property owner, the biz had to pay for & file a repair or renovation permit if needed, the biz has to be registered with a current biz license issued by city & or state ( if need be, like an electrician, registered by their state board). Biz has to do paperwork and pay a fee to file the workmans lien at the courthouse. Lots of safeguards to ensure that the lein is valid. if you are a under the radar type of home repairs biz you cannot place a workmans lien. The reason I know about the details on this is that moms house needed full roof replacement due to hail storm. The roofer - same one my parents used forever- now has a page on workmans lien on property, that they will file after 60 days. They had an issue with me signing as I am not the listed property owner, I'm moms POA. They added on an indemnity for me to sign off on. They told me they now had to do it as if I had signed and didn't pay bill, they could not have anyway to make mom pay. The contract couldn't be enforced. now I think that as POA it would have been ok but if signing the indemnity agreement made them feel better that's fine. Insurance paid for all of it anyways.
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Obtain copies of any medical proceedures and go through them with a fine tooth comb and start negotiating the bill down. I believe Medicare still starts at 65 regardless of your age of retirement. Some of the gap policies have a zero monthly premium but that does mean higher co-pays for the patient. Do not automatically accept the need for expensive medical proceedures like MRIs.. You are perfectly free to refuse anything. Make sure you ask the questions. When your illness or injury is caused by a work incident it is covered under workmen's comp. likewise an accident involving a vehicle will be covered by that insurance in full, Should you neighbors chinmey fall on you when you are taking her something you can claim on her home owners policy, likewise if you slip on a wet floor in a business and break your ankle their insurance will pay your bills.
on the other side of the coin make sure anyone you hire to work on your home or property is licensed and insured. Before you sign a contract request a copy of their insurance. if the postal carrier trips over something he/she will be covered by workmens comp but that is not to stop the workmans comp from comming after your homeowners policy. As everyone knows any claims paid will increase the premium.
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Can't a lein be put on property?
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AKA - OMG I totally forgot about the "you pay, you renew" debt collector tactic!

Yes, I bet you are totally right. Sandy is probably judgement proof. If she owns a home, depending on her state, that is totally protected from any judgement too.
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Listen to igloo572. You may be what they call judgment-proof, in which case your credit might be damaged for a few years, but other than that there wouldn't be much they could do. Speak to an attorney in your state. (Try going through a state bar organization for a free or cheap consultation). And don't make any payments, because in some states that can renew the amount the time the companies have to collect on the debt.
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Now that I have recovered from my dead faint…

Holy mackerel! $5K for *one* MRI??? I shall be nicer to our imaging department next time.

… thank you for that lucid outline, Igloo.
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CountyMouse - I think she would be better off working with the medical one(s) to get them negotiated down. Like I said, I'd bet once she is vetted for only SS income, they reduce the bill 70%. Which she should be able to pay monthly.

About future health care, once she goes onto Medicare (this is why it is important that she sign up for & go onto Medicare & get a "gap" policy for when she turns 66) the vendors can't turn her way. If they (doctors, hospitals, clinics) accept Medicare and there is availability, she has to be seen. And they HAVE TO ACCEPT THE ASSIGNMENT which means they have to accept whatever payment Medicare pays for the procedure. They can't discriminate on past bills. Now she will be responsible for the 20% that Medicare doesn't pay and that is why the "gap" policy is important. If she sees vendors within the "gap" list, she may have zero or a small co-pay. But if she wants to see her old doc's & they don't take Medicare, she needs to get herself zero balanced with them otherwise she is toast on ever getting an appointment. If I liked my old doc, I'd pay the bill so I could go back. That's why to settle the medical bill

You know 7K is a small health care bill for US standards. I had an MRI done last October and it was 5K for the 1 procedure and all vendors were in-network. If you want a very sobering read, the New York Times was running a series on "paying for care" under the US system. The whole out-of--network costs for the non Medicare, ACA & Medicaid payment system is pretty scary.
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So, explain to the foreigner please: with the $7000 medical bills payment outstanding, what happens when Sandra next needs a doctor? Wouldn't she be better off negotiating a repayment plan of some sort to avoid finding herself on record as a defaulter?
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Pam that is incorrect for CC or medical debts, Social Security benefits can ONLY be garnished to pay:
- Child or spousal support
- Unpaid Federal taxes
- Debts to other federal agencies such as an over-payment of food stamps or defaulted student loans.

Section 207 of the Social Security Act protects SS, SSDI benefits from being garnished by creditors, except those on the above list. Google SSA on this.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has a list of other federal benefits which are protected from a garnishment due to a judgement against you. They include:
- Social Security Benefits
-Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
-Veterans’ Benefits
-Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
-Military Annuities and Survivors’ Benefits
-Student Assistance
-Railroad Retirement Benefits
-Merchant Seamen Wages
-Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Death and Disability Benefits
-Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits
-Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U.S. Contractors Outside the U.S.
-Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Disaster Assistance. (This one with FEMA I knew about as after Katrina lots of folks had no income for ages; just FEMA $. Creditors could flat not touch it. The local banks were really good about refusing to service garnishments if there was any FEMA funding going through the accounts. Now a creditor can hold the judgement and then try to garnish later on but after a certain point in time they have to go to the courthouse, fill out paperwork and pay to refile to keep it "active" & I bet most don't. )

If all the income SandraLaCour54 has is SS and that is all that is in her bank account, the CC companies even if they go to court and get a judgement against her can't do a garnishment to her SS funds.
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They can sue and they can garnish part of your SS check. So send in the payments before they own your house.
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Can they sue you??? Sure anyone can sue.
But for the amounts - 5K & 7K - it's probably not worth it to do the court costs.

They will turn it over to delinquency and eventually sell it to debt collection firms. And then will be sold & resold again & again and will hound you mercilessly to pay.

For the medical, they will likely work with you. I'd start by sending them a letter stating your inability to pay in full, that you are on SS only and what payment could be done. if you are limited income, I bet they reduce the bills 70%.

THIS IS IMPORTANT: You need to make sure to sign up for Medicare too as you will qualify for it when 66. And get a Medicare "gap" plan too. You don't want to get in this situation again medically.

For the CC, those likely won't work with you and will sell it to collections. The original creditor may even send you a 1099-C for the amount that they wrote off (and this is taxable income). Now if you have no intention to pay, how to deal with it depends on your ability to totally not care and ignore the calls & not ever cave to pressure or speak with them ever; and be totally OCD & proactive in dealing with the debt & in their contacting you. And you have to do this for whatever the statute of limitation is for your state. Like 3 to 10 years. They will eventually go away, your credit is wrecked but you can ride it out. Most folks break down and agree to paying something. But CC is unsecured debt so you can walk on it.

Most bigger cities have Consumer Credit Counseling offices, which help individuals in debt work out payment plans with larger creditors like CC & utility companies. I think they make you get rid and cancel all of your CC and non-essential accounts, like all of them even if you have ones that are current and ok too.

Also if really truly your only income is SS, it is protected income from creditors. Your SS check cannot be seized. You do need to make sure that the funds in your bank account are 100% only from SS too otherwise it can be seized if there is a judgement against you. The only ones who can touch SS money is the government, the IRS. So file & pay your taxes.

your other option is to do bankruptcy.
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There is an organisation called the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (is anyone else familiar with these people?): if you look them up online you can find their contact details, including how to find a counsellor near you.

I'm in the UK so I couldn't possibly say how effective they are, but similar foundations over here do a lot of good work advising people who've got into difficulties. They won't wave a magic wand or do all the work for you, but it helps to have someone experienced and practical on your side. Best of luck.
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Sandra, I'm not sure about the suing. Some companies would sell their outstanding bills from clients to the bill collectors. Then the bill collectors are aggressive in calling you - daily. Put the guilt trip, etc... But you need to see it from the companies point of view. You bought their services/products and failed to pay for it.

With your fixed income, it would be best to cancel all 3 clothing store cards. Actually, the experts say to cancel all your credit cards. I prefer to keep one - for emergency. Except it's not working. I'm a shopaholic. This paycheck, I made myself promise that only the $50.00 cash must last me until my next paycheck. No more buying food with my credit cards (interest rates are 17%) and I'm not paying off the full amount. So, in the long run, I'm paying more for the food thru the credit card. I'm going to have to sit down and budget food & house supplies for that $50.00. No more - strolling thru the stores and buying a can of nuts ($8) and beef jerkies ($9 for 5), etc... I really need to sit down and buy Real food and not junk food.

My niece gave birth at the hospital. She had no insurance and her hospital was thousands of dollars. She went in and they came up with a payment plan that she can pay on a monthly basis. It took several years for her to pay it off - but she did. Years later, the hospital took her tax refund for non-payment of her bill. Fortunately, she kept all her receipts. She took it down, showed it to them, and demanded her tax refund back. Now. And they did give it back to her.

So, when you pay off each of these outstanding bills a little at a time, remember to keep All Your Receipts!
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Sandra: What is the question, what do you do?
Call the creditors, they will work with you and reduce the interest, pay small amounts. But, how old are these debits, there are so many questions before your questions can get answered.
These are debts that you have known about?
Medical Debts, talk to the place regarding Charity care. Find someone at a Sr. Center or a Church and let them know what you have said. There are ways to reduce this or eliminate it based on your income.

Again, you have mentioned very little, why the debt, and I realize you are on a fixed income.

All things are possible. Pray, tell us a little more, and people here do help. God Bless.
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