Get Adobe Flash player

Frequently Asked Q&A


What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Under the terms of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, credit card balances, medical bills, certain types of loans, back taxes and other forms of unsecured debt can be discharged. Discharging your debt means that you are no longer legally obligated to pay those debts. The protections offered by Chapter 7 bankruptcy can give you the fresh financial start that you need.


Additionally, and perhaps most importantly for some people, as soon as you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy an automatic stay is placed on creditors, temporarily halting foreclosure proceedings and collection actions. After a filing, creditors and collection agencies must contact your attorney, putting an end to the harassing phone calls and angry letters you are now getting.


Rudikh & Associates, LLC is here to help you get relief from mounting debt. Contact us online or call us at (732) 659-6961 to learn more about our bankruptcy services. We can help you regain your financial footing and put an end to harassing calls from creditors.


Rudikh & Associates, LLC works closely with people dealing with mounting debt due to credit card bills, divorce, medical expenses, adjustable rate mortgages and predatory lending practices. Chapter 7 is so helpful for filers because it wipes away unsecured debt, thus freeing up the money you need to pay monthly expenses like mortgage payments, utilities, student loan payments and car payments.


What if I Cannot Pass the Chapter 7 Means Test?

Under current bankruptcy law, something known as a "means test" is used to determine eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In general, your income cannot exceed the New Jersey median income for households of a similar size. The calculations are not nearly that simplistic, though; the formula employed can be quite complicated. It is important to work with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can evaluate your financial situation and determine if you can file for Chapter 7 or if a Chapter 13 bankruptcy would be a better option for you. After I file for Chapter 7, Will I Lose My Home or Car?

Though every Chapter 7 bankruptcy (technically called a "liquidation bankruptcy") case is unique, generally you can retain a great deal of your personal property after filing. Yes, the court does have the legal authority to sell some of your personal assets to pay off a portion or all of your debt, but there are comprehensive exemptions offered under both New Jersey and federal law. You can typically claim exemptions for your home, at least one car, household items, tools/equipment used for work and other personal property. These exemptions are here for your protection, and our attorneys will show you how to claim them to keep more of what you own.


Meeting With Your Creditors - The 341 Meeting


After filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required to attend a meeting with your creditors. This meeting, often referred to as the "341 meeting" after the bankruptcy code section that mandates it, provides an opportunity for creditors to ask you questions while you are under oath. Our attorneys will accompany you, advising and conferring with you should you need assistance.


Can Only One Spouse File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?


Yes. If one spouse has substantial debt related to loans, medical bills or credit cards in his or her name only, he or she can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by themselves. While the court may still consider marital income when determining the ability to pay off debt, the non-filing spouse's credit report and credit score should not be affected by the filing spouse's bankruptcy.


Life After Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - Rebuilding Your Credit


Shortly after a bankruptcy filing you may be able to qualify for a low-balance credit card; keeping the balance on this card low and making regular payments will reflect positively on your credit rating. Over time this simple step will lead to an increase in both your credit line and your all-important credit score. This seemingly simple money management technique, along with establishing some smart savings and spending strategies, will rebuild your financial portfolio and strengthen your credit.


Contact Us to Learn More About Chapter 7


For more information about Chapter 7 bankruptcy and how we can help you, contact New Jersey bankruptcy attorneys at Rudikh & Associates, LLC. You can send us an e-mail or call us at (732) 659-6961.


What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?


People who do not meet the means test for filing under Chapter 7 could likely be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. Under Chapter 13, commonly known as "repayment bankruptcy," "wage-earner bankruptcy," or "debt reorganization," you will be repaying a portion of your debt during a specific time, typically ranging from three to five years.


This plan is drafted by your attorney, working in conjunction with the bankruptcy trustee (who represents your creditors); we will handle any negotiations with the trustee or other creditors regarding terms of the repayment plan and the nature or amount of any debt prior to its confirmation by the judge. Once you successfully execute the terms of your repayment plan, however, any remaining debt will be discharged by the court.


At Rudikh & Associates, LLC we represent people interested in filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. We can evaluate your financial situation, prepare all necessary paperwork and represent you in any interactions with the court or creditors.


To schedule a meeting to discuss your case, contact the New Jersey Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney today. E-mail us or call us at (732) 659-6961


Home Foreclosure and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy


Chapter 13 allows you to restructure your preexisting debt, thus rolling past due amounts on things like your mortgage and car payments into the debt organization/repayment plan. You still need to make current and future payments, of course, since those are not included in your debt restructuring under the bankruptcy filing.


Meeting With Your Creditors - The 341 Meeting


After filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are required to attend a meeting with your creditors. This meeting, often referred to as the "341 meeting" after the bankruptcy code section that mandates it, provides an opportunity for creditors to ask you questions while you are under oath. Our attorneys will accompany you, advising and conferring with you should you need assistance.


Contact Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney Yan Rudikh Today


While you may have some reservations about filing for bankruptcy, it is an effective way to get out from under crushing debt, regain your financial footing, and get a fresh start. Because of the automatic stay provisions, you will also see an end to harassing phone calls and threatening letters from credits and collection agencies.


To learn more about Chapter 13, contact Rudikh & Associates, LLC today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.

SSD/SSI

I. Are Social Security Disability benefits only for those who have a permanent disability?
No, your disability must last a year or be expected to last a year or result in death within one year.

II. I have cancer and I am presently disabled but my doctor feels I should be able to work again after my treatment. Should I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?
If you are expected to be out of work for a year or more you should apply.

III. How far back will Social Security pay me if I am approved?
Social Security will only pay you past-due benefits one year prior to the day you filed your application. This is even if they find you disabled much earlier than that. However, there are other things that come into play here like previous applications, prior denials, etc. so one should speak with an attorney who handles these cases to give you an answer to your specific case. Also In SSI cases you will only get paid from the date of your application.

IV. How long does a Social Security claim take?
It can take anywhere from a few months to years. It depends on many factors: from where you live to which Administrative Law Judge hears your case. To give you a rough idea from my experience, it takes 3 to 4 months from the time you apply until the first decision then if denied, in states that still have Reconsideration, it could take another 3 or 4 months to get the next decision. It can be another 12 to 18 before you get a Hearing before an ALJ. You then get an ALJ’s decision anywhere from 1 or 2 months to many months, depending on the ALJ. These are very rough estimates because Social Security time lines are constantly changing and procedures are constantly changing as well as the case load that Social Security has to deal with can be very high.

V. If I lose at Hearing before a Judge, what can I do next?
Most states have an Appeals Council stage and an appeal should be filed immediately following the denial. For those states that don’t have an Appeals Council anymore you will have to file a civil suit in U. S. District Court. In most cases, one should also reapply and start a new Social Security case at this point as well..

VI. How much will I get if I win?
This depends on many things, most importantly, how much you put into Social Security through paying your taxes over the years. Social Security sends out a green printed paper periodically telling you all your work information in regard to paying into Social Security. Also on that paper it tells you how much you would get if you are found disabled and how much at retirement per month. You can also request this information from the Social Security Administration. VI. What is Disabled Widow’s Benefits?
This is a disability program where the claimant can apply for benefits based on the deceased spouse’s earnings record. You must be 50 years or older and the onset of your disability must be within 7 years of your spouse’s death.

VII. What is Divorced Spouse’s Benefits?
A claimant can apply for benefits based on his or her divorced spouse’s earnings record. If you were married to your ex-spouse for 10 years, are, at least, 62 years old and are currently unmarried you would qualify.

VIII. What is the five step sequentially evaluation process for determining whether an individual is disabled?
  • At Step 1 they will determine whether you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. Generally, if an individual shows earnings from employment or self-employment above specific levels set out in the regulations, it is presumed that he or she has demonstrated the ability to engage in SGA. If an individual engages in SGA they are not disabled regardless of how severe their physical or mental impairments are.


  • At Step 2 Social Security will determine whether the claimant has a medically determinable impairment or combination of impairments that are severe. An impairment is severe if it significantly limits an individual’s ability to perform basic work activities.


  • At Step 3 Social Security will determine whether the claimant’s impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals the Listings. Social Security has a list of medical conditions which is called the Listings. If an individual has a condition that is the same as or equal to the severity of that condition listed then they are found disabled. If one does not meet the Listing go on to Step 4. To see the Listings and how they work click here. Social Security Medical Listing of Impairments


  • At Step 4 Social Security will determine the claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity and when given that Residual Functional Capacity whether the claimant can perform past work. If it is determined that the claimant cannot do past work then move to the last step of the sequential evaluation process.


  • Step 5 at this step Social Security will consider the claimant’s Residual Functional Capacity, age, education and work experience and whether there is any other work the claimant can do. See this sites page on Grid Rules. GRID Rules and Disability.


VIIII. If I get a lawyer how much will it cost?
Generally, attorneys who handle SSDI and SSI cases will charge 25% of past-due benefits, not to exceed $5,300. They will only get paid if you win your case.

X. What can I do to help win my Social Security case ?
Submit all medical records you have to Social Security when you first apply. Continue to get medical treatment and try not to miss appointments. If you are denied…appeal right away. If you start to see a new doctor, have a hospital stay or go for a new test…tell Social Security or your representative immediately. Whether you are handling the case by yourself or you have a lawyer, always stay involved in your case. The Social Security process is long and frustrating. Never take it out on Social Security employees, it can only hurt your case. Every few months check the status of your case with your lawyer or the local District Office where you filed. If you don’t already have a lawyer, consult with a lawyer who has handled many Social Security disability cases. Speak to your doctor and see if he or she will complete a Residual Functional Capacity form (RFC) These forms can be obtained from Social Security or from your representative. Keep a journal of your day to day life and how your condition affects you. In this journal note things like any side affects from your medications, how your daily living is affected by your disability, sleeping patterns, etc.

XI. Should I apply for SSI, SSDI or both
It depends on your individual case. Those with limited resources should apply for SSI. Anyone who has worked for a significant amount of time should see about applying for Social Security disability. Keep in mind many people may qualify under both programs. Contact a lawyer who handles Social Security disability cases or contact Social Security directly to see what you would qualify for.

XII. Will Social Security grant benefits to those who have my particular illness or injury?
When Social Security decides if someone is disabled or not it is not based on the illness or injury as much as it is how that illness or injury limits you. One example is herniated discs of the spine. Some people experience very little discomfort or limitations from herniated discs. However, others are in great pain and severely limited not just in their back but sometimes arms and legs as well. As can be seen from this example, it is not the diagnosis you have but how does it affect you as a whole and limit you from working. Another example is depression. One can be diagnosed with depression and when on proper medication and other treatment function fairly well. There are also those who suffer from depression and even under treatment or medication still have difficulty remembering things, concentrating, dealing with people and in extreme cases even being able to function on a minimal basis. As you can see, what your illness or injury is called will not predict whether you will win or lose your Social Security Disability claim. This is why you should speak with an attorney who has handled many Social Security Disability cases. The lawyer will help you present the limitations you have from your illness or injury and relate that to how it affects your ability to work.

XIII. I have more than one illness or injury, will Social Security consider them separately or in combination with a finding of disability?
Social Security will evaluate your claim on all of your conditions combined and how they together affect your ability to work. In fact, Social Security must evaluate your conditions even the ones that are not as severe. An attorney who handles many Social Security Disability cases can make sure all of your conditions are considered.