and this is my only income. What will happen to me when they take me to court? There is no way I can pay this money back. What other options do I have if any.
An individual who only earns social security AND has no assets to speak of would be considered judgment proof in California. Here that means the creditor could practically do little more than pursue the debt, including phone calls and writing letters. I suggest you call to a local consumer / bankruptcy attorney to see if he or she has the same belief.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
As long as the only money in your bank account comes from the social security disability, no creditor should be able to take in with a court judgment. Talk to your bank manager about the process needed to protect your account because in some places, your account could be frozen until the court has a chance to review your account to determine that no other source of money goes into the account.
Although social security may be your only source of income, if you have other assets, such as a home, a judgment could result in a lien being placed on your property. Although in most states a lien on your home will protect you from a forced sale of your residence if you need to sell or refinance the property, you must pay the lien in order to transfer title.
A list of exemptions (proerty protected from creditors by state law) is probably posted on your state's website. Hope this helps & good luck!
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
The first thing you need to do if and when you get sued is file an Answer. The summons will tell you that you must “appear” by way of an Answer in 10, 20 or 30 days, “depending on the method of service.”
PLEASE CHECK THE LAW IN YOUR STATE AS YOU MAY ACTUALLY HAVE TO APPEAR IN COURT, AS IN VIRGINIA, IN ORDER TO AVOID A DEFAULT!
You need a lawyer, but if you cannot afford one right away, rather then do nothing and have a judgment entered against you, is to “appear” by filing something!
Many people think this means they have to go to Court and this is incorrect. 90% of all lawsuits end in Default Judgments because the defendant (person getting sued) did not file an Answer.
I recommend you go to the free form I have on my website. Print it out and fill it out as instructed. You must answer the numbered paragraphs on the Complaint by writing them into the appropriate lines in the Answer. The Answer will allow you to preserve your rights and will prohibit a default judgment (i.e. you did not show up) from being entered against you.
Mimic the paperwork you got when you got sued. Answer all the paragraphs of the Complaint by writing the numbers in lines 1, 2 or 3.
Almost 100% of attorneys will deny what is owed because they did not do the calculations and do not know what the basis for the number is…
When you file the Answer that is your “not guilty”. You have the right to make the person suing you (Plaintiff) prove their case, but you must also answer the complaint truthfully.
Make sure you fill in the name and address of the attorney suing you before you bring this paperwork to the Court. Mail it to the attorney suing you right away!
Check out the guide I have drafted on the Avvo profile. This will provide more detailed instructions. If it is helpful remember to indicate that and get the guide read!
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Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.