What can a creditor do to me if I can’t pay a bill?

UPDATED: Oct 6, 2011

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What can a creditor do to me if I can’t pay a bill?

My husband and I are on Social Security. Recently my husband passed away. I keep getting phone calls regarding ambulance services that was given to him before he died. This particular incident – my husband was admitted to the hospital for several days. At the time of this service we were members of an “ambulance club” but we have no proof. I have offered this company to pay $10 a month but they said they cannot accept this payment arrangement. Since it is only me and only income is Social Security, what can I do?

Asked on October 6, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I m so sorry for your loss.  While I can not tellyou to avoid you obligations, what I can tell you is that Federal Law makes your Social Security benefits exempt from levy, garnishment, assignment by regular creditors, and from the trustee in bankruptcy. The only way that the federal govnerment can with hold some part of Social Security is for  payments for taxes, student loans, or support. That means that even a creditor with a judgment cannot intercept your Social Security payments nor can they take the money from you after it has been paid to you.  The tricky part is that you need to make sure that your bank knows that the funds in your account are social security funds only and are exempt from levy.  They should see the direct deposit and where they come from.  If you have other assets that could be a problem.  So maybe go and speak with legal aid for advice with the whole picture  Good luck.

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