The long-lasting effects of the pandemic are not limited to health issues-individuals also experienced acute financial stress because of loss of employment, reduced wages, medical or other debts, and increased expenses (especially for care for children who were not in school). Working with Volunteer Lawyers for Justice’s (VLJ’s) Debt Relief Legal Program, the firm assisted 12 low-income individuals in preparing for, filing, and/or prosecuting personal bankruptcy cases in 2021. Filing for personal bankruptcy can result in the discharge of most debts, stop or alleviate creditor harassment, and create a path to a new financial future.
One client who is on her way to receiving a fresh financial start is “Nancy.” Nancy is a 62-year-old widow who lost her job during the pandemic. She has a health condition, and she accumulated medical debt even though she is insured. In addition to her ongoing medical expenses, Nancy owes tens of thousands of dollars in old student loans. When she lost her job and realized her debt would become unmanageable, she sought assistance from VLJ, which connected her to a team of Lowenstein volunteers. The firm helped Nancy file for bankruptcy.
Nancy’s needs are not unique. The pandemic and the loss of income that came with it forced many like her to make financial decisions that they might not have considered in the past but that became their best option. As COVID economic relief programs end and eviction moratoriums throughout the country are lifted, an increase in consumer bankruptcies is expected. We will continue to work with VLJ to serve clients who need a fresh financial start.