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Strikedebt | Occupied Stories - Part 2

Tag Archive | "strikedebt"

Vets and Collection Agencies

I gave this idea to Senator Sherrod Browns staff and I was told the idea has merit, and since then follow-up inquiries are met with silence.

I proposed that it’s immoral and unethical to refer a medical bill to a collection agency incurred by any veteran when that debt is being submitted to, in process of or in appeal with V.A. Fee Basis. I have such debt. Fee Basis, like most of the V.A., is an overloaded agency. Bills submitted there can take 6 months to a year or more, same with the appeal process. In the meantime the collection agency is harassing the vet weekly and reporting this to the Big Three credit bureaus.

It’s immoral and unethical to destroy the credit of a veteran incapable of defending themselves due to limited income: social security disability and V.A. compensation.

And another story:

Vets on V.A. Pension have it even worse. V.A. Pension is means-tested. I.E. the vet’s wife, husband or family cannot have any form of income or their pension is reduced by the equivalent amount. That enforces poverty and encourages cheating. I’ve seen vets commit suicide, get divorced, not be able to married, and be threatened by V.A. Pension and Compensation Department in Minneapolis.

I spoke out about this about 5 years ago. I was interviewed by a reporter. My photo was published in the Toledo Blade. I contacted congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. At first she showed great interest but the story didn’t serve to further her political career, so she refused to speak any further to me. I tried and tried to contact Mr. Kucinich and failed.

Thanks for listening.


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David and Goliath

My story has many subtitles: “State seizes 100% of liquid assets over a paperwork snafoo,” “Ex-husband’s debt causes state to seize $25,000 from mother of disabled son.” “Medical bills from child’s fall at school ruin single mother’s credit.”

Another subtitle: “Student falls from climbing wall at school during gym class, school refuses to pay for surgeries.”

That’s pretty much the gist of my situation. I was trying to move to a new location from Minneapolis, MN area to northern Wisconsin. The county I was moving to had told me that I could build on some property I was buying. Then once I bought it and started clearing land, told me that “no, it’s wetlands” – with no water on it and wouldn’t let me build.

This started my own personal Katrina. I had to move 5 times in 1 1/2 years – much of the time spent living in a camper.

I found a rental house to live in, which we lost to higher-paying renters. At this point, I still had my credit cards.

My daughter was in Superior Middle School, Superior, WI for her 7th grade year. The following spring she was put on the climbing wall in gym class with no safety gear. No parental permission was obtained for her to be on this climbing wall. She fell, breaking a bone in her leg and requiring two surgeries. The school and the insurance company fought responsibility for these costs for three years. During that period of time, my credit took a nose dive as the hospitals and the doctors reported the unpaid bills to the credit agencies. I was not of a mind to pay them, because I could see that if I did, I wouldn’t ever win a case against them.

In the fall of 2005, I handled what I thought was the last of the parental fee payments that I owed the state of Minnesota for my having dared give birth to a son with disabilities.

This was a fee that was increased exponentially by Jesse Ventura when he was pretending to govern the state of Minnesota. Life with him as governor increased costs to the general public in hundreds of ways. It became impossible for a family like mine to afford myriad excursions such as state parks, etc., because he eliminated huge chunks of state funding and greatly increased the entrance and parking fees. Something that cost $2 per person increased to $8.

Since Ventura’s regime had increased my parental fee from $150 to $1,050 per year,I had been behind on my payment and paperwork. In the fall of 2005, I had some extra money and paid up. I talked to someone on the phone who said since my son was turning 18 the following February, I wouldn’t owe much more, so she gave me an estimate of what that would be ~ $400. I paid everything.

A year and a half later, I got a bill for $179,000 from that same state department. This happened right about the time my father died. Needless to say, I was so flabbergasted by the bill that I just set it aside. I needed to deal with the loss of my father.

Before I left to go cross-county to my father’s funeral, I paid down both of my credit cards so that I would have plenty of room to use them on the trip to Tennessee. On that trip, I was trying to pay a bill over the phone,  I discovered that my credit available on both those cards had been reduced to 0, leaving the balance owed right up to the max. This was as a result of the unpaid medical bills having been reported to credit agencies.

The state kept sending me those bills. I sent letters to them recounting the story of how I had paid the bills. In January of 2010, the state of Minnesota seized 100% of the available cash I had in two separate bank accounts. One of those accounts was an account I had set up for my disabled son’s trust fund so that I could keep those funds separate from my own cash and not co-mingle funds. I had put $25,000 of his money in there to pay for work on my property as I was planning on building a guest cottage at my house for him to come visit. I have had no bank account since then, as I am too afraid of having my money seized by the state of Minnesota.

It is probable that the seizure of this money was due to the fact that my ex-husband refused to pay his parental fee for our son’s care in the state of Minnesota.

I tried finding a lawyer that would help me get this issue settled, and not one of the numerous attorneys I called would touch it.

I’d like to have these issues settled, but can’t find an attorney to help. When I was accused by the county where my son lived of mismanagement of David’s funds because the state had seized them, I couldn’t find an attorney who would represent me. I was forced to drive four hours and stay in a motel so I could appear in court without an attorney present. They kept saying “This is not a criminal matter,” but everyone knows that only the attorneys that work in a particular county really know how things go, and how to handle the judges and their prejudices. I was treated like a criminal. I’m afraid that this will be used against me in the future.

I feel that since I live in a different state, I really need an attorney in Minnesota to help me get all these loose ends tied up. I’ve been unemployed for 2 yeas, a teacher replaced by a computer and substitute teacher. I really don’t know which issue to handle first. I have a potential door opening for me in that my husband just passed away and I have found an attorney that seems like she will be open to helping with other issues besides his estate.

I’d like to be able to have a bank account without the fear that the state of Minnesota will seize my last cent and leave me unable to pay any bills, eat, clothe and house myself.

I know that other levies – for unpaid taxes, for example – can only take up to 25%, but this seizure was 100%. They’ve seized about $25,000, and I don’t agree thtt I owe ANYthing. What I have actually agreed to pay (since I took the settlement money from the insurance company) is not much. Maybe $1000, although I’ll never agree that it should not be the school’s responsibility for that debt.


This is my story. My son, David, deserves his money back.

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Student Loan, Ballooning Debt

My original loan balance for my Bachelors of Science program in Computer Information Systems was approximately $42,000.00.

As a result of outsourcing I was laid off as a Software Development Project Manager making a six-figure income.  I spent the next three years or so seeking employment in the field I passionately pursued to no avail.  Ironically the CEO of the corporation I worked for received a nice 7 digit bonus while Americans were displaced from the work force.

As I fell further and further behind in repayment of the student loans to Sallie Mae, Sallie Mae called incessantly in the morning, afternoon, and evening and then proceeded to call my references to further embarrass me.  They then offered forbearance after forbearance after forbearance.  Never explaining that interest would continue to accrue on the account.

For some reason I am not eligible to take advantage of current extremely low Federal interest rates of approximately 4.0% but I am forced to adhere to 8.0% rate.

As I stated earlier, the original loan in it’s entirety was approximately $42,000.00.  The capitalized interest amount is approximately $78,000.00 for a totally repayment of approximately $120,000.00.  By the time the loan is totally paid off I will have paid in excess of $250,000.00 to borrow $42,000.00.

I would also like to address the fact that while Sallie Mae Corporation continues to pillage the American people with their deceptive practices, each and every time I call Customer Service for the organization I am forced to deal with a representative from the “Asian Pacific” who will never clearly identify where they are in the world nor can they be understood.  Seems like and interesting formula to me.  Fix  the interest rate of the Student Loans to a hard 8% and outsource the Customer Service department to a place in the world that is not identified, therefore taking jobs away from Americans and increasing the bottom line for CEO’s to enjoy seven digit income and bonus packages.

I am fearful that this debt will go into default.


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InDEBTed to Education

We’re all told when we’re in High School that going to college is what we have to do. You can’t get a better job if you don’t get higher schooling. That you don’t want to be a garbage man for the rest of your life. You can’t make money if you don’t go to school. So, we find a college, take out a loan, and go to school.

I was not so sure I wanted to go to school though. I had (and technically still do have) a lot of issues I needed to sort though. Trying to manage my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), clinical depression, manic states, anxiety, and any other number of things. School was the last thing on my mind. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. All I knew was I loved my art classes.

So at some point I came to the conclusion I needed to go to art school. My parents were wary, but my art teacher and I assured them that there were ways to make money as an artist. This was before the Great Recession, as the economists call it.

Originally I was going to go to a local college, and just generalize in all sorts of art. Until I found Hallmark. It was, at the time, the number one photography school in the country. It has nothing to do with the cards though, bummer.

But I applied to go to the Hallmark Institute of Photography. What a mouthful. And I listened with rapt ears to everything they told me. That there was no such thing as a degree in photography, so what they could offer (a certificate of completion) was the best I could hope for. That $50,000 for ten months of schooling was worth it because it was like cramming two years into that ten months. That they were state-of-the-art (perhaps the only thing they didn’t lie about), and they would always help their alumni to find work.

Well, being the naive 17 year old I was at the time, I was sold. I signed the papers as soon as my portfolio was approved. That’s right, only 300 people at the time were accepted to attend each year. They were elitists, and I was on cloud nine for having been chosen.

Hallmark killed everything in me. Creativity meant nothing when it came to being a Hallmark Photographer. They were looking for a certain high-city look with the photographs their students produced, and I was not producing. Of course, this wasn’t all the teachers; just the ones that mattered. I am not a city girl. I live in the middle of nowhere out where the buses don’t run, and I prefer it that way

So even though I passed all my classes, and even though I went through hell to make it to the end, it was for nothing. I failed my initial portfolio review in which my artistic sense was torn apart by well-known photographers from outside the school brought in for that very purpose. But not to worry, there was always re-review! Which, I was told, was impossible to fail so long as you completed the list of corrections given to you.

So, I had three days to fix half of my portfolio. I don’t remember those three days at all, as it was murder on the depression, and between that and the meds I killed my memory.

What I do know is regardless of the efforts I put in, I still failed. The day before graduation, with no explanation, I was told I failed and I was to sign the papers saying I quit.

I told the dean of the college through tears that this wasn’t the end, I would be a photographer anyway. He agreed to meet with me a week later to review my portfolio in depth. He would later reveal that I probably should have passed, but he couldn’t reverse the decision.

In two years’ time I would find out that this dean had been cooking the books. All the money spent during my year at Hallmark, he had been swindling away our money to pay for things he wanted and possibly bribing people. He was being sued for two million dollars. As if I weren’t already upset that I couldn’t get a photography job because of the economy, and I could hardly pay the students loan when I DID have a job, now I learned that much of my student loan money had gone to lining the pockets of this man who couldn’t allow me to at least be considered a success and not a failure of the school.

I thought about starting a class-action lawsuit, but in the end I didn’t. I didn’t have the time, nor the energy. After all, I’m over $50,000 in debt, and working to pay it back is all I can do. And in this economy, in my area, that means you do your damnedest not to lose your job.

I was in and out of work from 2008 to 2010, enough so that my parents had to pay my loans for a while. I felt like a failure of a child, because they weren’t exactly swimming in money either. But even when I could get a job, it was usually in retail and all I could manage was the car loan I had. It was a horrible feeling.

I did finally manage to secure a job that allowed me to pay my own bills by myself, but I was later laid off. Thankfully rehired. But regardless of that, I’m still buried in debt. I’ve managed to bring it down by maybe $3,000, but under the 6% interest rates it’s not much. I’ll be paying them off until I’m about to retire at this rate.

I’d like to move out, get my own place. Go back to living on my own, being independent, and stop relying so much on my parents. But the only way I can survive with this debt is by living at home. And as I’ve gotten older (I’m 23 now), I’ve accumulated more and more stuff. And it doesn’t all fit in my one little bedroom very well. It’s a cramped lifestyle. But with this debt I’m fairly stuck.

I’d also like to have my own photo studio. Regardless of what Hallmark told me, I have continued to pursue photography. Even though I have to freelance, I do fairly well for myself. And I always pay my assistants well for their time, because it’s the right thing to do. But photography is a luxury and I don’t have enough of a client base yet for it to sustain its own studio.

Sad to say I’m thinking of going back to school, because these days you can’t get a job without the piece of paper I don’t have. It’d mean more debt, and a longer life sentence to it.

If I didn’t have educational debt, I might have a mortgage. Or a studio, and perhaps I’d be employing a couple other people to help. Or heck, I’d just plain have spending money to put back into the economy to help fix it. But I don’t. I pay over $400 a month to a bank for a loan that hasn’t gotten me very far at all. Over $400 that could be propelling me to a much more promising future.

I am the future of America, and my future says that I will be struggling to survive right up until the end. At this rate, I will pay off my loans just in time to retire and lack a nest egg, and probably lack social security. It’s not a pretty picture.

-S. Genier-

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