Bankruptcy After Lockdown?

The last year has been challenging for all of us in many ways. Americans have lost jobs at a rate not seen since the Great Depression. Industries–especially those in retail, tourism, and hospitality–have experienced crushing lockdowns. The government has passed a number of COVID-19 bills to mitigate the worst of these effects, beginning in March of 2020 with the CARES Act and most recently with the American Rescue Plan on March 11, 2021. The direct payments to the majority of Americans and the assistance provided to businesses have been beneficial. But they cannot eliminate all the damage done. And they cannot continue indefinitely.

Now is the Time to Act

Bankruptcy filings are low just now, but experts anticipate that they will rise significantly. That means that the bankruptcy court will be flooded with cases, and delays due to packed court schedules may result. Bankruptcy judges may feel pressured to rush through cases, making snap decisions detrimental to those involved. Now is the time to take a long, hard look at your financial situation and decide what the best way forward will be.

Personal Bankruptcy

More than 22 million people lost their jobs during this pandemic, and Moody’s predicts that those jobs will not be recovered until 2024. If you’re one of those who have suffered this loss, you may well benefit from declaring bankruptcy. While the additional unemployment benefits have been extended, they will not last forever, and unemployment benefits rarely compare positively with actual employment. The moratorium on evictions goes until June 30, 2021, but what happens on July 1? Perhaps you are one of the 7.7 million people who lost their employer-sponsored medical insurance; you don’t need to have had COVID to have incurred significant medical debt. Whatever your situation, you should consider your bankruptcy options now rather than later.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the one most commonly used by individuals (or couples). It is often called ‘Liquidation’ bankruptcy, but the experts at Burr Law can make sure that you get the exemptions you’re entitled to, and you will almost certainly keep your house and vehicle. Chapter 7 completely eliminates your unsecured debt, and it takes between four and six months to complete. It is means tested; your income must be equal to or below the median household income of your state. For Wisconsin, that is $67355 as of 2019 (the last year for which we have figures).

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often called ‘Wage-Earners’ bankruptcy since it functions more like a partial debt-repayment plan. The bankruptcy court assigns a trustee who examines your entire financial situation, negotiates the elimination or reduction of your debt with your creditors and establishes a realistic monthly payment plan. The whole process lasts between three and five years. While this option is not means tested, there are indebtedness restrictions. To be eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have less than $419,275 in unsecured debt, like credit cards or medical bills, and you also can have no more than $1,257,850 in secured debts, which includes mortgages and car loans.

Business Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Most businesses choose to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy; it is a reorganization of the business that allows it to continue to trade in the marketplace while repaying creditors. Generally, the business itself proposes the reorganization plan. It is also possible to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than once, without an onerous waiting period. This is informally called Chapter 22 bankruptcy. When you file for Chapter 11 relief in bankruptcy court, no trustee is appointed. Instead, you become the Debtor in Possession (DIP). You have the exclusive right to propose a reorganization plan for at least 4 months and up to 18 months. Once you do so, your creditors need to agree to the plan, and the court needs to approve it. That is called confirmation and in doing so, the court will decide whether the plan demonstrates 4 factors: feasibility, good faith, best interests of the creditors, and fairness. The whole thing usually takes between 6 months to 2 years.

Chapter 12 Bankruptcy

Chapter 12 bankruptcy is specifically designed for family farmers and family fishermen. It recognizes the greater debt burden that family farmers and fishermen carry but treats them more like individuals than business bankruptcies. The process is more streamlined and less expensive than Chapter 11, for instance. If you’re a farmer, in order to qualify for Chapter 12, your total debts must not exceed $4,153,150, and 50% of them must come from the farming operation. If you’re a fisherman, your total debts must not exceed $1,924,550, and 80% of them must be associated with your fishing enterprise. In both cases, more than 50% of your gross income should come from your farming or fishing. This bankruptcy pays off all or a portion of your debts over 3 years, though that can be extended to 5 years if necessary. You continue operating your farm or fishing business during the bankruptcy process.

Call the professionals at Burr Law to help guide you through the decision-making, and if necessary, the bankruptcy process itself. You’ll be glad you did.

With COVID-19 Raging, How to Manage Medical Debt

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the whole world hard. For those who have contracted the disease, the primary concern is treatment and recovery. Once you have surmounted that challenge, another awaits: medical debt. In Wisconsin, almost 20,000 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 (19,785 as of December 17, 2020 according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services) and over 4000 have died. That means that more Wisconsinites are facing massive medical debt than ever before. What can you do when you find yourself in a financial crisis because of your medical crisis? In this post, we look at some of your options.

What Not To Do

Before examining what you should do, here’s something you should NOT do: transfer your medical debt to credit card debt. When you pay your medical bills with your credit cards, you are shifting your debt obligations from an interest-free creditor to a high-interest creditor. Most consumer credit cards charge 18 – 24% interest while medical debt is almost always interest-free. So resist the urge to pay your medical bills with your credit cards unless you are absolutely certain that you are able to pay off the credit card before accruing the interest payments.

Medical Bill Itself

Many people never really look at the itemized medical bill that they receive. That’s understandable. It’s often long, complicated, and uses technical vocabulary, both medical terms and insurance jargon. However, carefully examining the medical bill is absolutely essential. Here is information from the American Academy of Family Physicians that can help with that If you have questions or concerns about particular items, use the established process to dispute the charge. If you cannot resolve a disputed charge, you can turn to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and consumer Protection for assistance.

Payment Plan

When are you certain the bill is correct, you can set up a payment plan with the hospital or medical provider. As long as the payment is reasonable, medical providers are usually happy to accommodate you. And you won’t be accumulating interest while you pay off your medical debt. The important thing here is to contact the medical provider right away and negotiate an agreement that you can actually maintain.

Medicaid and/or BadgerCare Plus

If you were uninsured when you went into the hospital, you can still manage to get Wisconsin Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus to cover your hospitalization costs. These programs are retroactive up to three months. That means that if you were eligible for Wisconsin Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus when you went into the hospital, you can apply for and receive that insurance and it will cover the time that you were there. However, if you became eligible for these programs subsequent to your hospitalization, your Medicaid or BadgerCare Plus coverage will not be retroactive.


Bankruptcy is a viable option when you are facing thousands of dollars of medical debt. The average cost for a Wisconsinite hospitalized with COVID is $14,573, and sustaining that level of debt, along with your usual obligations may not be feasible. Bankruptcy can completely clear medical debt. There are different options in bankruptcy, and if you are thinking about it at all, you should contact the experts at Burr Law. Chapter 7 bankruptcy completely eliminates unsecured debt; that includes medical debt and credit card debt. A professional bankruptcy attorney can make sure that you get the exemptions you’re allowed, so you keep your house and car. The whole thing takes between 3 and 6 months. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can also eliminate medical debt, though it’s a different process that lasts from 3 to 5 years.

Medical Debt Shouldn’t Be Another Crisis

When you’ve survived a medical emergency like COVID, you shouldn’t need to succumb to a financial emergency. Working with the experts at Burr Law can give you the information and options you need to make sure that you are making the right choices. When it comes to dealing with medical debt, contact Burr Law.

As Pandemic Programs Begin to Expire, Personal Bankruptcies Are Expected to Rise

A Debt Tsunami Is Coming

As legislation designed to cushion the effects of the COVID pandemic expires after Christmas, filings for personal bankruptcy will undoubtedly soar. Congress was unable to agree on extending stimulus payments, and nobody has received that money in several months. Main Street has been harder hit than Wall Street so far, and deferments on payments for borrowed money–mortgages, student loans, automobile loans and credit card debt–are all due to expire just after Christmas. Bah! Humbug!

So far, many lenders have been flexible about calling in their debts, but they won’t stay that way for long, and when these debt deferment grace periods end, a lot of them will be competing for a lot less money than the total accumulated debt. It’s only at this point that most of us will get an idea of just how costly the COVID pandemic and our responses to it have been. And at this point, too, the competition among debtors to recover as much of what they are owed as they can will have begun.

What Does This Mean for You?

It means that it pays to be realistic and proactive about your prospects for paying back your debt. One portion of our economy that will certainly not lack for business will be the courts and law firms. In many cases, dockets have become backlogged, because COVID has kept lawyers, court employees, and juries at home out of caution. But although financial proceedings don’t typically require juries, the courts that deal with litigating debt settlements will be absolutely swamped.

If you have debt obligations that you feel have gotten beyond your control, you are not alone. In fact, you are one of a great many who have been swept up in circumstances beyond their control. A lot of people ended up ringing up credit card debt at high rates of interest, just to get by. As lenders crack down, people who’ve put off filing for bankruptcy will also begin filing in large numbers. It’s best to get out in front of events if you can. The folks at Burr Law can help you decide whether to file, and taking into consideration your circumstances and the laws of your state, under what chapter to file.

Chapter 7

Most bankruptcies are filed under Chapter 7. Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates all unsecured personal debt, such as credit card debt, personal loans, and medical bills. Auto loan debts, mortgage debts, and tax debts still remain. Personal property may be sold to satisfy obligations, though what gets liquidated depends on the state. On the other hand, many people are surprised at what they may be allowed to keep, and sometimes funds are available to help meet the costs of filing. A Chapter 7 filing will remain on your credit report for 10 years, but programs exist to minimize the effects, and it is possible to rehabilitate credit more rapidly if you are strategic and disciplined about it.

Chapter 13

Under Chapter 13, you reorganize and consolidate your debt payments. In this case, your personal property may be protected so long as you meet your newly renegotiated debt obligations. it is typically significantly more expensive to file for Chapter 13 protection, but depending on your situation, it may be the best approach. Chapter 13 filings will remain part of your credit history for 7 years.

Get Professional Advice

Let the folks at Burr Law help you. They’ve seen everything there is to see in bankruptcy, and they’ve helped thousands of clients move on as painlessly as possible. The one thing they haven’t seen before, though, is the sheer magnitude of cases that are likely soon to hit the courts. They are here to help. Make up your mind to call them now, so that you’re not stuck waiting for an enormous number of cases to make their way through the courts prior to yours.

What Are Your Debt Relief Options?

No matter what, your bills arrive every month, and whether you’ve lost income because of COVID-19, or had a recent health crisis and incurred more debt, your financial obligations remain. If you are beginning to feel crushed by them, it’s time to explore debt relief possibilities. What are your debt relief options? In this post, we’ll explore a number of them.

COVID-Caused Hardship Relief

Although Congress has not passed another stimulus bill yet, the suspension of payments for student loans has been extended until 2021. You don’t need to do anything; direct withdrawals from your account will not occur and you will not accrue interest during this time. Many credit card companies and other lenders have also independently adopted programs to help those struggling due to the pandemic. These include loan extensions, reduced interest rates, and deferred repayments. In order to receive this kind of hardship relief, you may need to prove your hardship with documentation, and there may be other consequences including having your credit card frozen or your account closed. If your difficulties are directly due to COVID-19 and you can see that your situation will improve when the pandemic abates, these may be good options for you to pursue.

Consolidation Loan

A debt consolidation loan combines multiple debt payments into one monthly payment. That monthly payment is often lower than the individual payments combined, and the interest you pay is often lower as well. You will maintain your access to credit, though incurring more debt increases the likelihood of the debt consolidation failing. If the debt consolidation loan is secured, then you risk losing your collateral, usually your car or other significant tangible property. One thing, in particular, to beware of is cross-collateralization. If your loan contains a cross-collateralization clause, you may find yourself losing something you didn’t know you were risking. A cross-collateralization clause lets the lender take other property it has financed if you default on the debt consolidation loan. For example, if you get your debt consolidation loan through the same bank that financed your car, under the cross-collateralization clause, if you default on the debt consolidation loan, the bank could repossess your car—even if the car payments are current.

Debt Management Plans

Some people go to an agency that creates a debt management plan for them and negotiates with the credit card companies on your behalf. It’s important for you to know that agreeing to a debt management plan comes with a number of hidden costs – monetary and otherwise. You will be expected to pay an enrollment fee as well as a monthly fee for each credit card on the plan. Also, most credit card companies will require that an account entering into a debt management plan be closed, so you lose your access to credit. And the fact that you’re engaged in a debt management plan will be noted on your credit report. Most debt management plans run for three to five years (the same time frame as Chapter 13 Bankruptcy), and at least half of clients do not successfully complete the plan.

Negative Tax Consequences

Depending on your financial condition, any money you save from debt relief services such as debt consolidation may be considered income by the IRS, which means you pay taxes on it. Credit card companies and other creditors may report settled debt to the IRS, which the IRS considers income.


There are two types of bankruptcy you can pursue: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Chapter 7 is means tested, so you need to make no more than your state’s median household income ($67,355 for Wisconsin – 2019). If you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your unsecured debt can be completely eliminated. The whole process takes about four months, and then you can start over with a clean slate. While it is known as “Liquidation” Bankruptcy, there are exemptions, and most people keep their car and house. Chapter 13 bankruptcy works by having a court approved agreement negotiated between creditors and debtors. There are no income ceilings to qualify for Chapter 13, and the moment you file, there is an automatic stay on all collection action. Chapter 13 bankruptcy agreements generally last from three to five years.

If you need debt relief, contact the experts at Burr Law. We will talk you through all of your options and help you decide what is best for your specific situation.

Medical Debt During a Pandemic

For many Americans, COVID-19 has been a perfect financial storm. Lockdowns have cost income and opportunity, and some who had been climbing out of the hole financially have had to rely on credit to get them through as the federal government has been unable to reach an accord on extending benefits. At the end of the year, a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions concludes, even as political uncertainty clouds the prospects of economic recovery. Other suspensions of debt payment, including student loan payments, are also coming to a close.

For Americans struggling with medical debt, health issues, and often depression, exacerbated by isolation and deferral of scheduled health maintenance during the pandemic, this combination of factors has added up to the perfect storm. If you’re one of those who has had to be hospitalized for treatment for COVID-19, its impact on your financial well-being may have been almost as severe as on your health. According to statistics, the median hospital stay for CoVid patients who have survived has been from 10 to 13 days. Even if you have insurance, high deductibles may have cast you deep into debt.

State departments of insurance have been working closely with medical facilities to provide some relief, but mitigation efforts vary widely depending on the hospitals and the insurers. For the uninsured, the CARES Act is supposed to cover the costs. If your hospital takes money from the CARES Act Providers Relief Fund for your treatment, they are barred by law from seeking any further compensation. But not every hospital will attempt to take what is offered by the Fund. Some will prefer to attempt to recover more money for treatment by billing the patient directly, without regard to whether they have the means to cover the bill or not. If they don’t seek payment from the government, then the patient is liable for the debt.

People who are recovering from serious illness often lack the psychic resources to aggressively defend their financial interests. Often, particularly under present circumstances, they push it off until that future date when they feel more capable of dealing with unpleasant circumstances, and that is perfectly understandable. But a word of advice: When the new year arrives, and a lot of people who have been able to put off the unpleasantness of dealing with their debt suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of legal notices, or suddenly find their bank accounts seized or their wages garnished, there will be an avalanche of filings for bankruptcy. It is best, if that seems your best avenue to get out from under crippling debt obligations, to file as soon as possible.

You can be sure that lenders who have been put off will flood the courts with new filings. In the meanwhile, many of them have been busy trying to get out in front of matters, since most kinds of consumer debt collection have not been affected, though it takes time for filings to move through already burdened courts. You can also be sure that there will be an avalanche of bankruptcy filings at that time. The experts at Burr Law can help you make the decisions that will discharge your obligations with as little pain and loss to you as possible, and get you on your way to economic recovery as quickly as may be, whether that involves filing under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Do yourself a favor, and call the experts at Burr Law. They will lay things out simply for you and help you make the decisions that will put you in position to get the Debt Monster off your back, so you can begin to breathe freely again.

You are not alone. Give Burr Law a call.

COVID-19 Financial Relief: What Resources Are Available

The pandemic that is sweeping the world is causing untold suffering, and not only through illness and death. The financial implications of the lockdown to individuals and to businesses have yet to be fully understood. At the moment, everyone is wondering what financial relief is available. This post explores the possibilities open to individuals, businesses, and other entities.

Relief for Individuals

Economic Impact Payment

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the CARES Act that included a number of provisions for individuals. The most widely known is the Economic Impact Payment. The amount differed based on your tax filing status and income level, but generally, individuals received $1200 plus $500 per dependent child. By the beginning of May, the federal government had already sent out 110 million direct deposit transfers and 20 million paper checks. All payments ought to be received by the end of May. There is some talk that a second payment may be authorized in the summer.

Student Loan Payments Suspended

The CARES Act also suspended all federal student loan payments (including federal Parent Plus loans) for six months until the end of September. This happens automatically, and no interest will accrue on those loans during this period. Other student loan lenders are offering similar relief, though it likely is not automatically granted. If you have a student loan with an entity other than the federal government, contact it for help.

Expanded Unemployment Benefits

The federal government passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on March 18, 2020, and among its numerous provisions, it expanded unemployment benefits. The typical unemployment benefits of $300 per week for 26 weeks have been expanded to 39 weeks, and for the first time, gig workers and freelancers can claim for unemployment benefits.

401(k) Penalties Waived

Generally, if you withdraw money from your 401(k) before retirement, you are subject to a hefty 10% penalty. This penalty has been waived, and you can now take as much as $100,000 from your retirement fund without penalty to help you through this time.

Private Companies

Credit card companies, auto lenders, and others are eager to help consumers through the COVID-19 crisis. If you find yourself temporarily unable to meet your debt obligations, contact your creditors. Various nonproft and charitable organizations are also offering grants to individuals. You can find information at GrantSpace.

Relief to Both Individuals and Small Businesses

Paid Sick Leave

Another part of the Families First bill is designed to help workers in smaller businesses deal with using sick leave to care for their families. It offers 100% pay for two weeks to anyone needing to care for family or needing to take personal sick leave. Companies with fewer than 500 employees will receive a tax credit on next year’s tax bill to offset the cost of providing 2 weeks of full-pay sick leave to their employees.

Relief for Small Businesses

Paycheck Protection Program

The CARES Act included $350 billion for the Payment Protections Program, designed to allow small businesses to continue paying their employees during the lockdown. That original amount was gone within 2 weeks, and many in the public decried the companies approved, as they did not fit the small business category. Congress has approved an additional $320 billion, and these applications are being more stringently examined. The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center has information and assistance about this program.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Other Programs

The Small Business Administration has Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds available, though at the moment applications are being accepted from agricultural businesses only. Again, the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center has dedicated staff to help you understand and apply for these loans. This page can also guide you to other programs that provide relief to small businesses.

Other grants and Relief for Small Businesses

There are a number of programs to help small businesses survive COVID-19. Some have specific requirements to qualify (like the Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant). The best way to get the information you need is to look at the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center site or at the national list on Grantspace.

If you cannot find a financially sound way through the COVID-19 crisis, individual and business bankruptcy may be a viable option. Call the experts at Burr Law. We’re here for you.

Bankruptcy in Retail Stores: How the Process Works

Retail stores have been struggling since the advent of TV shopping networks and online shopping. Now, with most retail businesses closed down for weeks due to COVID-19, the situation may have become really dire. Many retail businesses may be considering bankruptcy. This post explores the bankruptcy process for retail stores, and complications that may arise because of the pandemic.

Different Types of Bankruptcy

Most businesses choose to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy rather than Chapter 7. Chapter 7 is a straight forward liquidation proceeding where all assets are sold off and creditors paid as much as possible from those funds. The court appoints a trustee who conducts the liquidation. Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a reorganization of the business that allows it to continue to trade in the marketplace while repaying creditors. Generally, the business itself proposes the reorganization plan. It is also possible to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than once, without an onerous waiting period. This is informally called Chapter 22 bankruptcy. We will concentrate on the Chapter 11 process here.

Typical Court Process

When a retail business is considering bankruptcy, the obvious first step is consultation with expert attorneys. The professionals at Burr Law have years of experience dealing with bankruptcy and can guide you through the complexities of the process. When you file for Chapter 11 relief in bankruptcy court, no trustee is appointed. Instead, you become the Debtor in Possession (DIP). You have the exclusive right to propose a reorganization plan for at least 4 months and up to 18 months. Once you do so, your creditors need to agree to the plan, and the court needs to approve it. That is called confirmation and in doing so, the court will decide whether the plan demonstrates 4 factors: feasibility, good faith, best interests of the creditors, and fairness. The whole thing usually takes between 6 months to 2 years.

Typical Business Process

Because you are the DIP, you continue to run your business. With expert advice, you can decide what product lines to discontinue, what marketing strategies to change, and whether some stores need to close. The bankruptcy court must approve any sale of assets, lease agreements, and financing arrangements (mortgages or other secured financing). Usually, it takes 4 months to plan and run a going-out-of-business sale, so there’s a lot of analysis and decision making that needs to happen in a short amount of time. The key, though, is that you get to make those decisions, not the bankruptcy court.

COVID Complications

The aftermath of this pandemic creates unique difficulties for both the court and the business parts of the bankruptcy procedure. Experts anticipate that the numbers of bankruptcy will rise significantly, both personal and business. That means that the bankruptcy court will be flooded with cases, and delays due to packed court schedules may result. Bankruptcy judges may feel pressured to rush through cases, causing precipitous decisions detrimental to those involved. On the business side, with many states still imposing retail store closures, going-out-of-business sales simply cannot happen. And the kind of predictive analysis required to decide about customer traffic and buying behavior will be extremely difficult.

Best Advice: File Now

As a retail business in financial trouble, it may be wisest to file now. You may be able to avoid the overcrowded bankruptcy court schedule, or be at the top of the list. And with the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, stores are able to open and hold those important going-out-of-business sales, except for some local restrictions. The bankruptcy experts at Burr Law can help you navigate the process.

How Will the New Stimulus Bill Affect Bankruptcy?

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. This follows the Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA) that took effect in February 2020. Both of these measures have an impact on those contemplating bankruptcy, or already in the bankruptcy process. Across the United States, people have more household debt now than at the height of the recession – $14.15 trillion as of the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to $12.68 trillion during the third quarter of 2008. And now, millions of Americans are losing their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 15, nearly 10 million people have filed first-time jobless claims; many of them may be looking to bankruptcy for relief.

CARES Direct Payments

Included in the CARES Act are one-time payments to qualifying individuals of $1200 for anyone making under $75,000 annually, and $500 for each dependent child. If you have made more than $75,000, but less than $99,999, you will still receive a payment, though it will be less than $1,200. The amounts of the direct payments for individuals making more than $75,000 and couples making more than $150,000 will decrease $5 based on every $100 an individual makes over $75,000. An individual with an income of $76,000, for example, would receive a $1150 payment.

CARES and Bankruptcy

Chapter 7

The CARES Act makes temporary changes to bankruptcy law. Those filing under Chapter 7 need to meet a means test; they must not make more than their state’s median household income. For Wisconsin, that is $62,629 (as of 2018). The CARES Act excludes the direct payment from that calculation. So for a debtor just on the borderline, this extra income will not count as “current monthly income” when determining eligibility to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 – Disposable Income

For those who have filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, these direct payments will not count as “disposable income” for purposes of Chapter 13 plan confirmation. Those debtors are also now permitted to seek modifications of their confirmed Chapter 13 plans if “the debtor is experiencing or has experienced a material financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.” The modification can be approved after notice and a hearing.

Chapter 13 – Extended Payment Plan

Debtors experiencing such hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic are also allowed to extend their plan payments for up to seven years after the time that the first payment under their original confirmed plan was due. So if you had a repayment plan of three years, it can be extended another four years. This means that the payments you are currently responsible for would decrease, perhaps substantially..

SBRA and Bankruptcy

The SBRA amends Chapter 11 and creates Subchapter V which applies both to small businesses and to individuals. It significantly increases the amount to qualify for the bankruptcy process. Debtors can have up to $7,500,000 in secured and unsecured debt and still qualify to proceed under this streamlined bankruptcy process. Previously, the debt limit was $2,725,625. With 38 states in complete lockdown and all “nonessential” businesses closed to the public, small business owners can be feeling desperate. For many small business owners who are facing a sudden and dramatic drop in income, this may bring some hope. Small businesses filing under Subchapter V may have a clearer way to obtain relief and maintain their ownership of the business.

The measures that the federal government has put in place to protect the economy during this COVID-19 pandemic can provide some substantial relief to those considering or in the process of bankruptcy proceedings. It’s important to remember, though, that the provisions are temporary. These changes expire precisely one year after their introduction. So as of March 27, 2021, they end. If you are experiencing financial hardship, the CARES Act and SBRA may mean that it is the best time for you to file for bankruptcy. Consult one of the experts at Burr Law for guidance.

How Can I Manage My Debt During the Coronavirus Crisis?

In order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, all but three states have ordered all non-essential businesses to close. Most of the country’s people are in lockdown in their homes, and millions have therefore lost their jobs. Since March 15, nearly 10 million people have filed first-time jobless claims. All of this means that for millions of Americans, managing their debt has suddenly become unmanageable. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t despair. You still have options. In this blogpost, we will look at ways of dealing with different kinds of debt, and explore bankruptcy options.

Student Loans

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that President Trump signed on March 27, 2020 suspends payments on federal student loans for six months, until September 30, 2020. During that time, interest will not accrue, either. This suspension is automatic, so you don’t need to fill out any forms or formally request it. The CARES Act also stops collection actions, wage garnishments, and treasury offsets; and it prohibits negative credit reporting due to your student loans. The payment pause and interest waiver includes Federal Parent PLUS loans in addition to Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Grad PLUS loans and Federal Consolidation Loans. It is important to remember that this only applies to loans owned by the federal government. It does not apply to private student loans, student loans acquired from state lenders, or, if you have consolidated your student loans through a third-party lender.

Mortgage, Rent Payments, and Foreclosures

The CARES Act provides for forbearance of mortgage payments. It also provides for a 60-day foreclosure moratorium for federally backed mortgage loans like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as FHA-insured, VA-insured or guaranteed loans, and FDA guaranteed loans. This covers almost all household mortgages; many banks and mortgage companies have suspended all foreclosure proceedings as well. In the state of Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers issued an emergency order on March 27, 2020 banning all evictions and foreclosures for 60 days, thereby including any mortgages not covered by the CARES Act and extending protection to renters. If you are a renter, you are still responsible for your monthly rental, but if you cannot pay it, your landlord cannot begin eviction proceedings. The best course of action is to talk to your landlord to see if you can work out some kind of agreement. Wisconsin has also instituted a moratorium on utility shutoffs.

Credit Cards and Other Loans

Many credit card issuers are offering assistance to consumers during the COVID-19 outbreak in various forms. Available help includes credit line increases, collection forbearance, and skipped payments. You should check the website of your credit card companies to see what help you could possibly receive. Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions are offering loan extensions and deferred payment options, among other things, if you’ll have trouble making payments on a personal loan or small business loan. A number of auto loan companies are offering payment delays as well.


Another option to consider right now is bankruptcy. The CARES Act modified the Bankruptcy Code making it easier for individuals to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as well as making changes to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you are a sole proprietor or self-employed person, the Small Business Reorganization Act that went into effect in February 2020 could also be a source of relief for you. It extended the amount of secured and unsecured debt you could have in order to qualify for the streamlined bankruptcy offered

in Chapter 11. If you have ever considered filing bankruptcy, now may be the time to follow through on it. Contact one of the experts at Burr Law to discuss your situation.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing all of our lives in significant ways. The ways in which you have always managed your debt may no longer work for you. There are options available to you, though. If you are concerned about your debt situation, you should contact the professionals at Burr Law. We’re here to help your finances survive this coronavirus.