Cancer & Bankruptcy

This page was originally published April 13, 2023 and updated March 4, 2024.

If you or someone you love has cancer, you know it is one of the most expensive diseases to treat. The American Association for Cancer Research reports the average cost of cancer care is $48,000 in the first year alone, an obvious driver in the extreme financial burden experienced by both patients and their families. In fact, recent research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than those without cancer.

The American Journal of Managed Care, in the Personal Financial Burden of Cancer for the Working-Aged Population outlines two likely reasons:

  1. Cancer patients often have to miss work while they are undergoing treatment, and this lost income further complicates an already stressful situation. Those undergoing treatment were on average out of work 22.3 days more than those workers who have not been diagnosed.
  2. Cancer patients were least likely to be employed full time. Cancer patients experience a reduction in income after they have been diagnosed, as they may no longer be able to work at all.

Cancer is such a difficult disease that brings with it many hardships. If you are struggling financially after a cancer diagnosis, please know that help is available. Bankruptcy may be the right option for you. Read on to learn more about bankruptcy, getting legal advice, and where to get free help today. ❤️

Bankruptcy Protection

When finances get overwhelming, bankruptcy can provide valuable protection from creditors. There are two main types of bankruptcy that may be relevant for cancer patients: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge your debts completely, which can give you some much-needed financial relief. There are many advantages to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 can stop creditors from pursuing collection activities, such as wage garnishment, and it can give you some breathing room to catch up on missed payments. Another advantage of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it can help you keep your property. In some cases, you may be able to exempt (or protected) certain assets from the bankruptcy estate. This means that the trustee will not sell your exempt property to pay your creditors. 

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, allows you to reorganize your debts and make manageable payments over a period of three to five years. After you have completed your payment plan, any remaining balances on your debts will be discharged. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you keep your existing assets like your home, even if you are behind on mortgage payments.

Differences Between Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is known as a “liquidation” bankruptcy, meaning your non-exempt assets are sold to pay off creditors. In contrast, chapter 13 is a “reorganization” bankruptcy, where you keep all your property and create a payment plan to repay creditors. The length of time a bankruptcy stays on your credit record depends on the type of bankruptcy you file. While a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years, Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7 years. The eligibility requirements and outcome of each type of bankruptcy are vastly different, so it’s essential to seek professional guidance if you’re unsure which one to choose or even if bankruptcy is the right option for you. Remember, bankruptcy is a serious decision that can have long-term effects on your financial future.

Getting Legal Advice

Bankruptcy lawyers can help you understand your options and choose the right type of bankruptcy for your situation. A good legal professional who specializes in this area of the law can provide help with:

  • filing for bankruptcy and dealing with the paperwork.
  • negotiating with creditors and get the best possible deal.
  • keeping your home or your car.
  • rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy be a valuable tool for cancer patients, but it is not right for everyone. Be sure to speak with a professional before making any decisions about bankruptcy.

Choosing an Attorney

When choosing a bankruptcy attorney, it is important to choose someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in the field of bankruptcy law. Here are a few tips for choosing a bankruptcy attorney:

  • Choose an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy law.
  • Choose an attorney who has been practicing law for several years.
  • Ask your friends and family for recommendations.
  • Check the attorney’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Meet with the attorney in person, on the phone, or through video conference and ask him or her questions about bankruptcy law.

Get No-Cost Help

If you are considering bankruptcy as a way to deal with the financial challenges of cancer treatment, there are several places you can go for no-cost advice and help.

Upsolve is a website that provides free bankruptcy services to low-income individuals. The website was created by two Harvard Law School graduates who were inspired by their own experience going through the bankruptcy process. Using Upsolve, you can file for bankruptcy without paying any fees.

The website walks you through the entire bankruptcy process, from start to finish. It provides all the necessary forms and instructions, and it even helps you find local attorneys if you need assistance. Upsolve also offers a review service, where users can submit their bankruptcy paperwork to be reviewed by a court-appointed trustee. If you’re struggling with debt and considering bankruptcy, Upsolve can help you get back on your feet. With Upsolve’s free services, you can say goodbye to your debt and start fresh.

Legal Services Corporation

The Legal Services Corporation offers free bankruptcy services for low-income individuals, giving you the chance to get your financial life back on track. With their help, you can navigate the often-complicated process of filing for bankruptcy without the overwhelming financial burden of hiring a lawyer. This service gives you the opportunity to create a plan for your future free from the stress of overwhelming debt. Don’t let your finances control your life any longer – take advantage of the services provided by the Legal Services Corporation and start taking control of your financial future today.

To be eligible for help from LSC, an individual must have an annual income below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines or be receiving public assistance. For assistance, complete the form here.

National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is a nonprofit organization that, through its member agencies, provides free services to consumers who are struggling with debt and who meet income guidelines. The NFCC offers credit counseling that includes both debt management and bankruptcy services.

The member agencies are certified credit counselors who can help you understand your options and make the best decision for your situation. They can help you develop a budget and repayment plan, and they can provide education on debt management and bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy services include education on debt management and bankruptcy, help preparing for bankruptcy, and representation in bankruptcy court. The list also includes advice on how best handle your money going forward if you’re struggling financially – be it through bankruptcy or budgeting support; tools that can teach individuals about credit health as well as foreclosure remedies- no one should face these issues alone when they don’t have to. To learn more about the NFCC, please visit their website. You can also email them at or call them at (800) 388-2227 to speak with a certified credit counselor.

Let’s Summarize

If you are facing a cancer diagnosis, there are a number of financial resources available to help you cope with the high costs of treatment. While bankruptcy can be a valuable tool for protecting your assets, it is not the right choice for everyone. Of course, every situation is different, and you should speak with an experienced professional to find out if bankruptcy is right for you. As outlined in this article, there are a number of organizations that can provide no-cost financial assistance and advice. Choose those that work best for you. If you need additional assistance to locate a legal professional, please reach out. We’re here to help. ❤️


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