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debt cancellation w/disability, default

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    Posted: 17/November/2004 at 1:31pm

ok i am almost ready to sent this puppy in - i'd like some feedback first, if you guys don't mind.  thanks in advance, mom

my address

date

address of CSLP

Dear Sir or Ma’am

Re: mom

Canada Student Loan Account Number goes here

I am asking to be considered for relief from my Canada Student Loan debt for medical reasons. I have recently been diagnosed as suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia, as well as chronic fatigue and depression.

I am unable to pay the debt because of circumstances beyond my personal control. I am unable to work and I am suffering financial hardship and experiencing deteriorating health. I make my request on compassionate grounds for my debt to be cancelled.

I suffer from the following symptoms that are related to my illnesses: weakness and absence of strength in my hands, loss of dexterity in my hands, tingling and numbness in my hands and arms, sensitivity to climatic change, sensitivity to light and sounds, chills and fever though the temperature is normal, muscle pain, joint pain, extreme muscle and joint stiffness, pain in my feet, ankles, knees and hips making it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time, sharp shooting pain from my shoulders to my fingers making it impossible to move my arms, pain in my hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders making it difficult to type, drive or lift anything, muscle spasms, headaches, problems with short term memory and memory loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating, extreme mood swings, depression, anxiety attacks, insomnia and difficulty controlling my emotions. I am unable to perform simple tasks . I tire extremely quickly and am unable to get ‘rested’ - any exertion requires days for me to recover. I also suffer from stomach cramps and lack of appetite.(gesh, i sound like i'm falling apart)

While my husband works full time, his wages cover all household expenses and other financial obligations. He is unable to assist me in repaying my student loan debt, and I am not currently receiving any medical or disability benefits. I have exhausted my interest relief and already had one application for debt reduction denied prior to uncovering my health problems. As a result of being unable to fulfill my financial obligations and defaulting on my student loans, I am also suffering from unusually high levels of stress, and am seeking help to manage my conditions.

I am requesting that you sent the necessary documents to me to apply for the cancellation of my debt. I ask for special consideration in having my application processed despite being in default on my loans as I have no hope of repayment of this debt. I also request that my loans be removed from active collections pending the outcome of my application as I am unable to physically or emotionally deal with any inquiries regarding repayment at this time without experiencing anxiety and stress followed by days of depression.

Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions please contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

 

Yours truly,

momof2

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Islander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17/November/2004 at 7:44pm

Dear Mom:

Great letter! Let me make a few suggestions, if you don't mind.

1st sentence para 4. Maybe reword it or add the word only before the word cover to ensure that the drones aren't under the impression he could pay but doesn't feel responsible (even though he's not, they might take the attitude that he's MORE responsible than the People of Canada). Emphasise the difficulty of meeting the families' needs as it is.

I recommend that you use the expression debt forgiveness rather than cancellation; it carries a connotation of punishment as the alternative. That way you are appealing to decency and justice rather than just to accounting practices.

You might want to make it clear that you are not and will not be using your education for any practical purpose. The justification for its exclusion from the protection of bankruptcy was that the debtor would continue to reap the benefits of the education without having paid for it; you want to spike that gun before it occurs to them.

I also suggest that rather than listing your symptoms (or as well as) you either append a letter from your doctors enumerating them or have your doctor certify that your description of your condition is accurate. Without a medical opinion supporting your claim, you'll just give them an excuse to ignore the file for a few months until they get around to telling you to get medical reports.

Perhaps you might, in the closing para, consider asking for an urgent reply on the grounds that the stress is exacerbating your conditions. That will come in useful in the future if they take months to reply.

Just some thoughts. But the piece is very moving and ought to get some reaction.

I thought of suggesting that you CC it to the press or to your MP, but perhaps that would be a mistake at this point. It might seem like blackmail. On the other hand a blind copy to them might be useful and then CCs of all future correspondence if you don't get a decent response.

What do the rest of you think?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote momof2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17/November/2004 at 8:02pm

i was thinking of sending a second letter regarding my ontario loans to Lorraine Morrison (scotiabank gslac centre manager) and cc her letter to the office of the president of the bank of nova scotia. 

lack of response from the bank would trigger a letter to the scotiabank ombudsman, my mp, my mpp, the premier, the pm, minister of colleges and univerisites etc.

lack of action after that i would try and see if mark has some way of getting my letter published...

and i like your suggestions.  it took me so bloody long to type that stupid letter and things just didnt sound quite right, some parts are still bothering me a bit.  ill probably be tweaking it for a few days, so keep the suggestions coming.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17/November/2004 at 8:24pm
I would suggest that you simply call them and ask them to send you the forms, then get everything filled out and send it back to them...

After you get the forms, you will see that you need a medical opinion as well as budget information on their forms...

Mark

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Islander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17/November/2004 at 9:22pm
Mark, this is an opportunity to get something on the record; not just a request for an application form. The whole point is to put a personal face on the debt.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ferren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17/November/2004 at 10:32pm

Mom, I agree with islander about that paragraph 4 and substituting "his wages only cover household..." Other than that it's great.

I was also mulling over the first paragraph and wondering if it would be more effective to change "I have recently been diagnosed as suffering from.." to "I am currently under long-term medical care for..."

Other than those two thoughts it is an extremely well done letter.

You could probably boost it's effectiveness enormously if you found an advocate group to "introduce" your letter on their own letterhead. Ie: I am an advocate for people with XXX requesting on Mom's behalf that you seriously consider forgiving her debt..." Just a thought. Might not be realistic but I have personally seen that work wonders.

Also, have your doctor endorse your letter on his office letterhead in the manner Islander describes. If you have a shot better make it count for all it's worth!

Good luck!!!!!

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pigeon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18/November/2004 at 8:10am

Hi mom,

Great letter! My only concern is that they are immediately going to ask for documentation detailing your medical condition and probably a letter from a physician attesting that your current medical condition precludes you from being able to pay the debt.

I would also remove the part about your hubby. What your husband makes or does not make plays no part in your situation. It has always been a favourite ploy of the CA's to involve our family members (and their cheque books) in our financial situations. I would be wary about even mentioning that there is a second income as it has no bearing on your medical condition and gives the CA an opening to bring up such wonderful topics as:

- well maybe you should get a smaller apartment, you don't really need a phone or TV, you buy real chicken...if you bought spam you could save some money, winter clothes...this is Canada...who needs to buy winter clothes, etc.etc.etc.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Coffee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18/November/2004 at 9:39am

I would also c.c. the CA as well, just for the record.

Good letter and good luck, friend!

If the federal government can forgive third world debt that reaches into the tens of millions of dollars, then surely HRDC can forgive yours. Then again, our federal government is always quick to assist those in far off lands under the auspices of "humanitarian reasons" than to come to the aid of people like ourselves.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18/November/2004 at 10:47am
Mom, I agree also. Take the part about your husband out, as this is irrelevant information. They will only use it against you later on in your life.

Other than that, it is a great letter, and I wish you all the best. Keep us posted. Thanks for all the great advice.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hunter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18/November/2004 at 10:48am
Pigeon

I liked your post about "- well maybe you should get a smaller apartment, you don't really need a phone or TV, you buy real chicken...if you bought spam you could save some money, winter clothes...this is Canada...who needs to buy winter clothes, etc.etc.etc.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote momof2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18/November/2004 at 1:12pm

thanks for the input guys and girls

the letter is just to get them to send me the forms, once i get those i will get a letter from the doc (without my doc batting an eye) etc because they will require it.  i want to put some of this in my request for forms because it will hopefully get them to act faster on sending me the documentation and going over my app once i send it in.

i was iffy on the part about hubby, but his IS the only source of income. ill probably leave it out, though, until i have to submit documentation on budget and living expenses etc.

i can't cc the CA - still havent heard a peep from them and have no idea who i will end up dealing with.  i dont even know if the bank has sent my file to the governmnet to get paid off yet, and im not going to call scotiabank and ask, either.  my loans were still direct lend from the bank so who knows what barrel of monkeys i will be swimming in. 

once this gets in motion i can get the ball rolling on trying to get qualified for medical disability - another government burocracy that will take up to six months to get a response.

thanks again for the suggestions.  i will post updates when i hear anything.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Islander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18/November/2004 at 7:41pm

I'm not sure I agree with the rest of the forum about eliminating the reference to Mom's husband.

Your reasoning is excellent; I agree that his input is irrelevant and that Mom's debts are not a liability to him. On the other hand, the first question they will ask before they consider forgiving the obligation is "What sources of income to you have?"

I believe it would be better to let them know up front that her only means of support at this point is the income of someone who is stretched to the max and is not liable. Her income is relevant and will be examined in detail before any forgiveness is considered.

If done in a careful way, the inclusion of her husband in the equation could also communicate the fact that being forced to pay this loan off would have a negative impact on a number of people who are not liable in any way for the loan...her kids and her hubby.

One way or another, they will ask who pays for the food before they cut her any slack.

Thoughts?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pigeon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/November/2004 at 7:59am

Good point Islander but let me put it this way......replace her husband with a parent. Would you still include that information? Granted, before they even think about giving mom a break, they are probably going to want a full financial report. My only concern is that a discussion of her financial status would cloud the real issue which is her medical status. Her financial situation is a direct result of her medical condition and I'm just worried about letting the powers that be put the cart in front of the donkey. Your point does raise an intersesting question though......does the amount of money you have affect the decision of the government when it comes to obtaining relief for medical reasons and if so how much? If you can't work for medical reasons do you have to use up all your savings before you can seek relief for medical reasons? So not only do you have to be sick, but you have to be poor to boot. The waves of compassion overflow the cup of the federal government.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Islander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/November/2004 at 8:25am

To answer your first question, I think I would. I'd say something like, "The only way I can even have the basics of food and shelter is as a result of the contribution of my family who is not in any way responsible for the debt."

Maybe you're right, though. I'm just afraid that it could look like she's not being up front if she doesn't mention where she gets the basics.

And you're right about the cup of compassion. I'm sure that if someone was clearly wealthy, they would expect the loan to be paid. That, hoever, is clearly not the case here. But in that sense, loan forgiveness probably follows the welfare model. You won't get it until you've completely exhausted your own resources.

Under all those conditions, Mom is clearly entitled to any break that is available and some that only SHOULD be available.

Nit-picking, here, Mom. Great letter!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Coffee Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/November/2004 at 10:20am

I completely understand your logic, Islander and it does make sense. However, do you not think that any references to her husband wil open a door that, under the circumstances, ought to stay closed?

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Blue. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/November/2004 at 10:53am
But the door's going to open anyway. Whether Mom has to reveal it now, or when she receives the forms, it doesn't really matter...she's going to have to show who's paying for the roof over her head and the food on her table. The point being, her husband is liable for shelter and food for his family (in a very broad sense), but he's not liable for her debt. And, in fact, because of her medical condition, he couldn't afford to pay her debt even if he wanted to. Leave out the reference to your husband or put it in, but they're going to ask, anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote momof2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/November/2004 at 11:14am

hubby pretty much has to be included somewhere along the line, guys.  remember, when i was applying for IR and initially applied for debt reduciton, they ALWAYS considered the TOTAL FAMILY INCOME.  which sucks and is totally unfair as he is in no way legally or morally obligated to pay for my student loans, but is the way the system works.  we all know the system is full of flaws, and this is an obvious one, but what choice do we have.  ironic, too, since i'm the one with the degree and he didnt finish high school, yet he's supporting a family of 4.

the alternatives to forgiveness of my debt here are simple - they can pay the CA to harass me for years and i'll end up hospitalized from the stress, and they will have to swallow the debt anyways.  i can duck the CA for six years and be stats barred.  they can take me to court and have a judge berate them for inflicting this kind of torment on an already suffering person and wasting the courts time and the taxpayers money.

i cant work and have no assets so what avenue of execution do they have against me ?  unless they come up with some serious new drugs, there is no way i can work, not while i have the strength and energy level of an 78 year old parkinsons patient.  i refuse to take any medication that will alleviate my pain at the expense of my mental awareness or my perception of reality.  its hard enough looking after my kids as it is, i cant do it if im a space cadet.  my hubby has already had to miss work to look after me and the kids when i was bedridden for a week, and we cant afford for him to quit his job to become mr. mom. 

when and if i can get my medical disability app approved (another six month long ordeal), at least then i can qualify to get some assistance around the house doing the stupid things like peeling potatoes ( which i cant do at all) and washing dishes.  the worst part about my current state of health (aside from the fact that i seem to be getting worse) is that fact that i can pretty much kiss any more kids goodbye, because there is no way in hell i'd be able to look after an infant in my present state.  this is what i am having the hardest time accepting because i was looking forward to having more children.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Islander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19/November/2004 at 6:09pm

Well, Mom, those are two opposing opinions on the husband's contribution and its relevance.

God knows you OUGHT to get every possible break. We're with you. I still suggest that you include a plea for an expedited response. If nothing else, it'll help your case for their incompetence if they take months to respond. At best, you'll get an expedited response.

Go get 'em! 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20/November/2004 at 8:29am
Here is an old post to help you. Try using the Search feature, and search for disability in the TOPIC.


To my knowledge, for calculating eligibility for disability, HRDC still uses the bankruptcy forms and regulations. These use "Surplus Income" not Net income and not gross income.

Check the bankruptcy tables and make sure you find the amount for your family size. According to HRDC regulations they are supposed to assess you to see if paying back the loan would be a hardship, but they dont include a loan payment in your calculations... go figure...

Here's the old post..
**************************************************
HRDC is using the wrong income for disability financial hardship.... clearly it should be net income not gross as I was told today!

Surplus family income is set out in a schedule prescribed by the Superintendent of Bankruptcy.

The surplus is calculated by taking your ****net income and deducting any prescribed medical expenses,maintenance, and certain other expenses.*****

The directive from the superintendent of bankruptcy is at
http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/br01055e.html

Directive on Surplus Income
6. (2) The family unit's total monthly income shall be determined by subtracting from the total of all its members' monthly incomes the following amounts, as applicable:
(a)     In the case of a salaried employee, minimum statutory remittances (income tax, pension and employment insurance deductions) and other mandatory deductions paid; or
(b) in the case of a person who is self-employed, business expenses and deductions as permitted by the Income Tax Act or similar provincial legislation, minimum statutory remittances and instalment tax payments.

6. (3) The family unit's available monthly income is determined by subtracting from the family unit's total monthly income the monthly non-discretionary expenses applicable to the personal and family situations of both the bankrupt and the bankrupt's family unit:
(a) child support payments;
(b) spousal support payments;
(c) child care expenses;
(d) expenses associated with a medical condition;
(e) court-imposed fines or penalties that are in process of being paid;
(f) expenses permitted by the Income Tax Act (or similar provincial legislation) that are a condition of employment; or
(g) any other debt where a stay of proceedings has been lifted by the court, and a recourse authorized.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote momof2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20/November/2004 at 12:10pm

thanks for the info

the link mentioned above has changed to http://stategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inbsf-osb.nsf/en/br01 055e.html

it would be nice if the government and the banks would adopt this manner of determining if you could repay your loan rather than just using your gross income - there is quite a difference in the numbers !!

im planning a rewrite of the letter for this weekend - ill post the new version again and see if i missed anything before sending it off.

truthfully, if i can qualify for some sort of disability benefit i have no problem paying towards my debts after everything else is settled and paid in full.  financially right now we are in no position to even consider making any payments - because there is nothing left over at the end of the month as it is.  even the minimum benefit of 382 bucks a month would make a tremendous difference for us.

i will keep everyone posted on the progress of my situation.

thanks again for all your help and support

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