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Bankruptcy Law/Student loans


Hi Michael,

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,

You should probably read this web posting:

Basically, your mother should write to the creditor and advise that she is on social security.  Yes, they can sue her for her non-exempt assets, but the social security payments themselves are exempt.  (Exemptions such as homesteads, autos, etc., depend on state law.  Social security payments are protected by federal law).

As for you, there is no easy remedy.  Bankruptcy is the only real remedy, but it is very very difficult to discharge a student loan.  Read

The creditor can get a judgment against you and garnish a portion of whatever you receive in earnings.  However, "Debt collectors don’t want you to know that if you have student loan debt, while it still must be paid, you have the right, under the 1992 Higher Education Act, to set up a short-term payment schedule with the collection agency, requiring only “reasonable and affordable payments” – sometimes as little as $10 per month.

Successful completion of the student loan rehabilitation program (making nine out of 10 payments on time) takes the debt out of the collector’s portfolio and sends it back to the Department of Education. The collection agency loses its various commissions and bounties, and your loan is now being held under more favorable conditions.

Remember, high pressure tactics by bill collectors are used solely to scare or bully you into paying them. While it is still your responsibility to square all your valid and legitimate debts, you don’t have to endure illegal, harassing or irritating activities.

Arming yourself with the right knowledge can help free you from the frustration – and empower you."  You may want to read the rest of this article at

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Michael T. Hertz


I am already listed as a volunteer under "Collections Law," but actually I am a bankruptcy lawyer. I am a member of bar in California and in Massachusetts and have practiced in bankruptcy since 1978 and have also taught bankruptcy law at the law school level (in Maine and Oregon). I can answers questions with respect to all bankruptcy chapters, having represented creditors, debtors, trustees, creditors committees, and persons involved in defending actions in bankruptcy court.


See above. Basically, 33 years of experience.

inactive member of State Bar of California; inactive member of bar in Massachusetts; former member of bar in Maine; former conseil juridique in France.

California Bankruptcy Law Review; Georgetown Law Journal; numerous others. See my resume.

Harvard Law School, J.D.; Pomona College, B.A.

Awards and Honors
Superlawyer in Northern California, 2005 and 2006

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