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Hi Mark,

I have a large amount of student loans that I know I will never be able to pay off.  Furthermore, it is extremely difficult for me to pay anything now as my income isn't much.

My mother co-sign on ONE of the student loans and they are now calling her and threatening to get the money from her.  

My mother is retired now and receiving social security checks.  Can they take money from people receiving social security???

If I make these payments, I won't be able to pay my rent or eat. What I can do to stop these folks from also calling me as I am really unable to make the payments right now.  

Thank you,

Hi Michelle,

You have different options depending on the type of student loans.  If these are public (government) loans, you have several income-based repayment options available, and it can be as low as zero dollars per month if your income is low enough.

However, if they are private loans, your options are more limited.  You can attempt to seek an undue hardship discharge of the loans in a bankruptcy case, but that is expensive and there's no guarantee a judge will grant it.  The criteria is rather difficult to prove, but you can see the options at

But if you have a co-signer, discharging the loans in bankruptcy wouldn't solve the problem, since your co-signer would still be liable.

If they are private loans, they cannot take social security income (assuming it is properly kept in a segregated account).  Public student loans may be able to.

One option we've had some success with is to file Chapter 13 cases for people in your situation.  It doesn't eliminate the debt, but it forces the student loan creditor to accept whatever payment you are making (and it could be as low as $75 or $100 per month) AND your cosigner is protected unless and until the bankruptcy court decides they shouldn't be (which is possible, but rare).

You need some kind of regular income to file a Chapter 13 and be able to make some kind of monthly payment.

So, my suggestion is you contact a bankruptcy attorney in your area for more details on your options.

If that doesn't work, there are attorneys who specialize in non-bankruptcy resolution of student loans.  For private loans, that usually means defaulting on the loan, waiting until the file a lawsuit, and then defending the lawsuit and settling for a lesser amount.

Good luck!

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Mark Markus


Mark Markus has been practicing exclusively bankruptcy law in California since 1991. Based in Los Angeles, California, he is a Certified Specialist in bankruptcy law by the State Bar of California and is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell. He represents debtors, creditors, and Trustees in Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 throughout California.


Visit our webpage if you need a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy in general and Mark J. Markus in particular. Many questions are answered on the web page (hint, hint).

Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Association (CDCBAA) Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Financial Lawyers Conference (FLC) National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) Los Angeles Bankruptcy Forum (LABF) American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) San Fernando Valley Bar Association (SFVBA) Southern California Bankruptcy Inn of Court

Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Association Newsletter September 2007 (Vol. 1, Issue 2)

J.D., University of Arizona 1990. B.A. Economics, California State University, Northridge 1986. For more details please click here

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