How to Deal with Debt & Disability

Artwork: Robin Mead

It may please you to learn that there are special laws in place that protect your Social Security disability check.

If you are not on disability, there may still be a few other things on this page that can assist you.

Did you know that debt expires? And after it expires creditors will keep calling you and pretending you owe them money?

Did you know that if you if you send a debt collector $1, you can turn an old, expired debt into a new debt and start owing money all over again?

Did you know that you can get a student loan disability discharge even if you were not approved for disability?

There are a whole lot more things the debt collectors will never tell you, but you may be really glad to know.

Student Loans

If you are low-income or disabled and have student loans, you may have several good options. You do not need to be on Social Security. How to Get a Disability discharge on Student Loans

If You Are On Social Security

There are special rules in place to protect your Social Security check. Please learn more about  Who Can Take My Social Security Check? and How to Protect Your Social Security Check from Debt Collectors.

What Happens if I Don’t Pay Debt?

Here’s what happens: What Happens if I Don’t Pay Debt?

Dealing with Debt Collectors

If your debt is from a long time ago it may be expired. Even if your debt is recent, there are still a few things on this page it could be helpful to know: How to Deal with Debt Collectors

If your only income is from Social Security, and you don’t own any assets, you may be considered “judgement proof.” This means debt collectors cannot take your money. Learn more: How To Be Judgement Proof

If you are going to tell creditors that you are collection proof, make sure you also take these steps to protect your Social Security check

Credit Ratings for Housing

If you have past debt or poor credit due or evictions to your disability, you may be able to request a reasonable accommodation for exception to credit policies when applying for housing. Learn more: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters for Housing

Medical Bills

All of the above applies to medical debt as well. Here are a few more solutions for Medical debt:

If you qualify for Medicaid or Medi-cal you may be able to get all medical debt from the past three months paid for. Plus, you won’t get any debt in the future, because Medicaid covers all expenses. Many people think they can’t qualify for Medicaid, when they actually can. Please check out: How to Apply for Medicaid Twelve Different Ways and How to Respond When You Are Told You Can’t Get MedicaidIf you are on Medicare, check out: How to Escape Medicare Fees.

The Sisters Undercover were not disabled or low income, but they were still able to eliminate most of their medical debt: How I Cut My Medical Bills By 80%

Back Billing Medical Bills

Medicaid: In many states, Medicaid can back bill for 3 months, so if you have recent medical debt and get approved for Medicaid, you may be able to request that the doctor still bill Medicaid.

Medicare: After you get approved for disability, in some cases you will be able to get retroactive Medicare, covering a time period before you were approved. This is not true in all cases, it depends on how long you were applying and when your onset date was. If you get retroactive medicare, your providers can send past bills to Medicare.


In some cases, there are some special IRS regulations that help people with disabilities. If you owe the IRS money, in some cases you may be able to go back and amend past tax returns.

Learn More

Financial regulations are complex and can change. Please double check and do more reading before making any important decisions. A few good links:

Thanks for Reading

🌸 This page is part of the free online guide: How to Be Poor in America

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 Page Updated: 10/1/19

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

15 thoughts on “How to Deal with Debt & Disability”

  1. HELPS non profit law firm helps seniors and the disabled deal with debt collectors. It is a free or low cost service that stops the harassment. Gor bless them.


  2. I have a lot of problems with my housing cordinator, if I ask a question about my out of pocket medical cost calculations she refuses to explain it if we meet in person and its determined she made a mistake( only with her supervisor present) the next time it’s h.e.double hockey sticks for me if I should have a deduction question again.No this has been an on going problem with her for 10 plus years after she found out I had a trust .she always asked me for the balance and the balance of my inheritance then I found out I did not need to tell her that information she then stopped asking.I think i would do better with another coordinator can i suggest this? I feel its predigest.


    1. I’m not sure the answer. You could certainly try writing to the supervisor and requesting a different housing coordinator and writing down your reasons for the request.


    2. Hello, The property management company has a duty to its residents. In your case explaining how your rent is caculated and your medical deductions. Put in writing that you request a meeting with management to discuss your “completed” recertification and new rent amount. If management ignores your request or there is still confusion, you then request a meeting with the “District or Regional Property manager”. If there is dispute or confusion still afterwards, contact your local or state housing authority or contact HUD directly.

      Hope this helps, good luck:)


  3. This link does not work: “here are special rules in place to protect your Social Security check. Please learn more about Who Can Take My Social Security Check? and How to Protect Your Social Security Check from Debt Collectors.”


  4. I have been dealing with social security disability for 10 years never have I gotten a dime for my child who is severely disabled, always something wrong or not right. This website has changed everything for me. I answered questions that attorneys and the ssa did not answer. Thank you!


  5. We have accumulated high credit card and other debt. I am on disability Medicare. My husband is on SS and retirement. We just lost nearly 800. income from my disabled son going to a group home to live. We have had to use our credit cards to live off of. Between my Drs. Co-pays and His we also have to pay for our medications every month or a few are 90days. Our medical just our meds will hit about 200k this year. My husband goes every 8weeks for infusions that are 18k for every infusion our part is nearly 300. We have to buy food, rent, electric,gas for Drs. I have now 5 Specialist and each one is about 2to 3hrs from us.I have Lupus and several overlapping autoimmune diseases that requires me to have Specialist for these. My son is 89miles from us and we can’t go and see him like we want for not having the money and my illness. If we file bankruptcy we will lose everything we have. It’s terrible to have so much stress and that plays a part in making me more sick….😢✝


  6. I am disabled and receive SSI, an collection agency contacted me by email, and said, they have a warrant out for my arrest and they will put a freeze on my bank account and my money will be taken that I owe them from my account for payment on a debt I owe, they didn’t say who was doing this, they also said I would go to jail and I either had the choice of paying them or facing prison time, they said contact them back by email and if I paid them, I could avoid all of this, they are asking for $9000 some dollars by a sudden amount of time.i still have the email on my phone

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a very common scam. DO NOT PAY THEM! Collection agencies (and I’m fairly confident in this) never send notices like these via email. Some of these scams are also done over the phone, too.


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