INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Families all over central Indiana are suffering the heartache and stress of enormous medical debt. Last month, we uncovered nearly one in every four Hoosiers in region had medical debt in collections. It can ruin your credit and your life. So when is bankruptcy a good option?
FOX59 went to bankruptcy attorney Mark Zuckerberg. He said he sees people at the end of their rope all the time.
"I've had a couple of clients commit suicide, because they felt that there was just no other way," he said.
But now, he said, it's time to fight back, remove the stigma of bankruptcy, and help people learn more about the process.
"It can be a good thing. It'll save your home. It'll stop the phone calls. It'll get rid of stress. And it also may be a way to start rebuilding your credit."
Here are some tips to help you empower yourself:
Find out if you even need to file for bankruptcy. Zuckerberg said you may not even have to.
"You only need to file for bankruptcy if you're trying to protect something," he explained. "If you have no wages to protect, if you don't have a house, there's really no reason to file, because there's nothing they can do to you."
Second, know that you may have money no one can take from you.
"If you have social security or pension, nobody can touch social security or pension."
And finally, bankruptcy will hurt your credit. But it may not take as long as you think to rebuild it.
"I've had people get their credit scores up into the 700's nine months after they filed for bankruptcy."
Zuckerberg said the most important takeaway is that bankruptcy is a part of the U.S. Constitution build to help people in financial crisis. If you're in medical debt that you can't pay off, it might be time to talk to a lawyer and go over your options. The more you know, the better decision you can make for you and your family.