This answer presumes you are asking how often one can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is what you would file if your income is below the median in Nevada (around $43k/yr for a single individual.)
You can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and obtain a discharge of your debts every 8 years measured from date of filing to date of filing. For example, if you filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on September 30th, 2005, you can file again on October 1st, 2013.
Nevada statutes provide multiple exemptions under NRS 21.090 (see it at: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-021.html#NRS021Sec090)
One of those exemptions is for one vehicle that has less than $15,000.00 in equity, calculated as (value of the car - amount owed on car loan). If your car is 15 yrs old, unless it is a Bentley or a Ferrari, then I suspect it is worth less than $15k so it could not be touched by creditors.
Even though your only income is social security, the assets that are purchased with social security are not exempt specifically because they were purchased using social security money.
Regardless, the exemptions in Nevada are substantial so I do not suspect you would have any issues with exemptions. You get up to $12k in household goods (furniture, beds, appliances, computers, televisions, clothing, etc.), up to $5k in jewelry, up to $15k in equity for one car, up to $550k in equity in your homestead (primary residence with homestead declaration recorded with the county recorder), up to $500k in qualified retirement accounts, 100% of your social security funds sitting in a bank account that can be proven came from social security, and a few others.
It sounds like you are safe. You should notify your creditor that your sole income is social security, that your only vehicle is worth less than $15k, and that you are judgment proof (presuming that information is correct.)
William Devine, II
I am an attorney, just not your attorney (yet). Any answers here are to be deemed informational unless and until you retain me as your attorney for actual legal services and legal advice. I offer free in-person consultations. If you like my answer, please hit the thumbs up button.
The only thing I would add to Attorney Devine's great answer is that while social security is entirely "exempt" from creditors in bankruptcy, that has nothing to do with whether your assets are exempt or not under applicable law. You would be well advised to consult a bankruptcy attorney to determine the nature and extent of exemptions available to you should you decide to file for bankruptcy relief.
Advice on this forum is for informational purposes only and should never be mistaken as a substitute for legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, you should consult local legal counsel.
I would add this info about your Social Security benefits.
If a creditor other than the federal government tries to garnish your Social Security benefits, inform them that such an action violates Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407).
NOTE: SSI payments are not subject to garnishment.
Section 207 bars garnishment of your benefits. It can also be used as a defense if your benefits are incorrectly garnished. SSA has responsibility for protecting benefits against garnishment, assignments and other legal processes usually ends when the beneficiary is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under section 207 of Act as long as they are identifiable as Social Security benefits.
However, the creditor may go after your bank account or other assets. You may lose the federal Social Security protection if you co-mingle your SSA money with other monies. Check with an attorney in your state.
Federal regulations require that banks which receive a garnishment order for an account into which Social Security, VA, Railroad Retirement, or Federal pensions have been deposited, must look more closely before honoring the garnishment order. The bank has to figure out the sum of such Federal benefit payments that have been deposited to the account during a two month period, and must ensure that the account holder has access to an amount equal to that sum or to the current balance of the account, whichever is lower.
Under this regulation, you do not forfeit your protection from garnishment by mingling your Federal checks with other money -- but there are limits on the amount of money in your account that's protected from garnishment. Only 2 months worth of benefits are protected. Additionally, don't transfer benefits to another account or else the protection is void.
Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.
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