Bankruptcy Assistance for the Disabled
The bankruptcy court provides many accommodations for people with disabilities, and does so free of charge.
If you are financially distressed and are looking for a fresh start, don’t let your disability keep you from the debt relief you have a legal right to claim.
You may have heard that you have to testify at a court hearing when you file bankruptcy, and if you have limited mobility or a hearing impairment or are confined to your home, you may be worried that you will not be able to comply with the court’s bankruptcy requirements.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to assist you before, during and after the hearing, and can make special requests for accommodation to the court ahead of time to make sure your needs are met and to make sure you are comfortable at the court house.
In some situations, if there is medical necessity, it’s possible to obtain permission from the court to allow you to testify by phone from your home or a medical facility, instead of coming to the court.
• “Mary” has a hearing impairment and inquired whether it was possible to make arrangements for a sign language interpreter. We made the request in advance of the court hearing. The U.S. Trustee arranged for the sign language interpreter to come to the hearing and paid for the interpreter’s services, at no charge to Mary.
• “Don” was recuperating from recent surgery, and was not yet feeling well enough to come to the court. The trustee agreed to schedule another hearing date, four weeks down the road from the original court date, per our request.
• “Sean” suffered a stroke and became bed bound. He could speak and reason, but felt much sicker whenever he had to get up from the bed even for brief periods of time. Sean’s doctor provided a written certification that it was very difficult for Sean to travel due to medical reasons, and we obtained permission to allow Sean to speak to the trustee at a hearing by phone, rather than physically appear in court. I traveled to Sean’s home, with Sean’s permission and per court’s instructions, and I also prepared him for the phone meeting and connected him to the trustee and provided verification of his identity to the court.
• “Dawn” brought her oxygen tank to the bankruptcy court. She realized her oxygen supply was closer to running out than she had calculated before. The trustee was able to call her case first so that Dawn would be able to leave as soon as possible, and I called Dawn’s son, with Dawn’s permission, to ask him to come over right away and help transport his mom home without delay.
• “Jackie” was nervous about the court meeting, and wished to have her caregiver and her friend accompany her. She was not sure if this would be allowed since the court appointment notice only specified her name and her attorney’s name. Bringing the caregiver and the friend was not an issue for the court at all, as long as they were able to show their identification to the guards and to go through security.