Legal Help for NJ Veterans Facing Foreclosure

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As we honor those who served our country this Veteran’s Day, it’s important to know that there are thousands of homeless veterans in our country. Furthermore, there are over a million veterans who are in danger of facing foreclosure in the near future.

Why are so many veterans homeless?

This question is a good one, because many people in New Jersey and across the nation simply do not understand that so many veterans are struggling. The reason most homeless veterans lose their homes is due to a lack of affordable resources. Those veterans who are struggling financially need legal assistance to save their homes.

Sometimes, a veteran may face a seemingly smaller legal issue like the loss of a driver’s license. Studies show that veterans who lose their driver’s license end up with snowballing financial problems due to difficulty navigating the legal system in order to get their licenses restored. This leads to job loss due to the veteran not having a reliable way to get to work, which then in turn often leads to the loss of their home via foreclosure.

What assistance is available to struggling or homeless New Jersey veterans?

Across New Jersey, people are taking action to help homeless NJ vets. In South Jersey, a project entitled Operation Safehouse has volunteers building 60 cabin-like homes where veterans can live for up to two years while they are also given access to mental health assistance and work skill training so that they can eventually support themselves and move into their own permanent homes.

A similar program in Central Jersey, Community Hope, has been providing veterans with temporary housing for over a decade now, with an outreach program (Supportive Services for Veteran Families [SSVF]) in 15 NJ counties. Even though Community Hope helped over 750 veterans avoid homelessness last year and other programs like Operation Safehouse are popping up throughout the state, the number of  NJ veterans who are struggling continues to rise.

Veterans who fought the war on terror after 9/11 are feeling the effects of their time in combat and are dealing with severe PTSD that is preventing many of them from staying gainfully employed. Additionally, many post-9/11 vets living in New Jersey were so traumatized by their time on the front lines that they even struggle with keeping friendships and families together.

While the community organizations like Operation Safehouse and Community Hope are doing all that they can to support the emotional and physical needs of veterans, there is still a need for legal assistance that many NJ veterans simply can’t afford.

Are there any government programs or special considerations for veterans at risk?

If you are a veteran and you are at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, take the time to reach out to NJ foreclosure defense attorneys who are ready and willing to help you. Also, do your research on the special rules and exemptions you may qualify for as a US veteran.

You may be able to save your home from foreclosure if you’ve been able to maintain your employment but are still struggling with heavy debts that you simply can’t keep up with. In New Jersey, your VA benefits are exempt from the bankruptcy means test. This gives veterans a leg up when applying for bankruptcy in NJ.

In fact, in New Jersey, many disabled veterans are excused from even taking the means test. Filing for bankruptcy will push the pause button on your foreclosure, if you’re dealing with one, giving you time to formulate a plan that works for your current financial situation.

Image credit: S. AR University

 

Special Financial Rules and Benefits for U.S. Veterans

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Active service members as well as U.S. Veterans experience the same financial struggles felt by the rest of America. However, there are several rules that apply specifically to US service members and Veterans when it comes to their finances. It’s important to know your options if you’re a former (or current) service member who is under a great deal of financial strain.

If you’ve got debt piling up that you just can’t make a dent in and your monthly bills are also going unpaid, it may be time to think about filing for bankruptcy.

In order to file for bankruptcy, everyone must pass the bankruptcy means test. Normally, military income, including VA benefits, would be included in your means test assessment. HOWEVER, New Jersey is a state that uses the federal bankruptcy exemption system. This means that your Veterans benefits would be exempt from the means test (not included), which will give you a much better chance at being approved for bankruptcy.

Disabled Veterans do not even have to pass the means test as long as most of the debts in question occurred while you were on active duty or while you were performing homeland defense duties.

In order to be considered a ‘disabled Veteran‘ according to bankruptcy court, you would have been relieved of your active duty status due to the disability occurring or exacerbating while on active duty. For the sake of the bankruptcy means test, to qualify as being in ‘active duty,’ you would have been a full-time military member.

National Guard members or Reservists may also be exempt from the means test required for bankruptcy approval, but the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Act of 2008 is about to expire, so check with your bankruptcy attorney to be sure about the requirements you’ll need to meet.

In addition to the special rules and exemptions afforded to Veterans regarding bankruptcy and the means test, the Service member’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protects those military members who are actively deployed. The SCRA works to postpone a number of obligations in order to allow members of the armed forces to focus on their military duty.

As an active member of the armed forces, the SCRA temporarily protects you against: trial, taxes, credit card debt, eviction by landlord, and outstanding mortgage payments. This is very good news for spouses and family members of deployed service members, as it protects them from losing their home while they (or their spouse) is on active duty.

Veterans and active service members who do end up filing for bankruptcy will notice a hefty drop in their credit score, just like anyone else who files for bankruptcy. The good news about filing as a Veteran or service member is that you will likely be eligible to take out a VA loan in as little as 12 months from your filing date (assuming you’ve been paying your bills on time since the bankruptcy). This can help you on the path to righting your finances and living situation.

If you are a U.S. Veteran or are currently active in the U.S. armed forces, please reach out to our New Jersey bankruptcy law firm for a free consultation. We want you to know today, as well as every other day, that we appreciate your service for our country. Now, let us help you get your finances back on track!

Image credit: US Army Africa