Dealing with debt on its own can be extremely difficult and if you’re struggling with an illness at the same time, it can definitely become overwhelming.
A surprising amount of people with illnesses tend to not realise that they may be eligible for some relaxation when it comes to the debts they owe.
Today, I’ll be discussing what options you have if you’re having trouble managing your debts because you’re ill.
Can I Get My Debts Written Off Because I’m Ill?
If you’re ill and struggling to manage your debts, you can definitely take some actions to ease things up for yourself.
You can contact your creditors and inform them of your health situation. This may help you with any negotiations regarding your debt with them.
If you are suffering from a mental health condition, then you would be protected by the Equality Act 2010 which states that creditors must make reasonable adjustments to the terms of the debt in order to accommodate you.
Furthermore, most creditors have their own additional rules and guidelines as well which outline how they must deal with debtors that are more vulnerable.
Depending on your creditor, you may need to provide them with proof of your health condition. This could be in the form of any medical document. Always be sure to send them a copy and not the original document.
Not all creditors will ask you for proof when deciding your case but it’s generally a good idea to send it to them anyway.
Your creditors may not agree to write off the entirety of your debt. However, they could agree to write off a part of it.
If they refuse to write off any of your debt, you can still ask them to:
- Give you a payment holiday (or a payment break) until your illness subsides.
- Contact you at specific times only.
- Give you some breathing space in order to seek debt advice and gather information
- Only contact you through certain specified mediums such as only through letters rather than using a phone.
- Not pass your debt over to a debt collection agency.
- Employ the use of a specialist staff that would deal with your case more compassionately.
All of these options can give you precious time you could use to either get your good health back, pay back your debt or both.
While it’s definitely possible to get your creditors to write off your debt, it’s generally quite rare. It’s usually a last resort for creditors and they will only agree to it if they feel there is realistically no way you’ll be able to pay back your debt to them any time soon.
This could be because your illness prevents you from earning money or from effectively managing your debts.
More realistically, creditors may agree to give you more time and breathing space so that you’re not overwhelmed.
You may find it embarrassing or intimidating to talk about your debts and/or illnesses especially if they’re mental health issues. I highly suggest that if you’re seeking debt advice, you should contact a registered charity such as The Citizens Advice Bureau.
They have trained professionals that will discuss your situation with you thoroughly and tell you all the options you can pursue.
If you’re finding the incoming information overwhelming, you can even ask them to break it down into smaller sessions. Of course, they would attend to your more urgent matters first.
What are Some Rules and Guidelines in Place to Protect Debtors who are Ill?
Depending on the type of debt you have, your creditor could be following a number of different guidelines, codes and practices.
Some of these are:
- Most types of personal debt such as payday loans, credit card loans, etc. are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA’s FCA’s Consumer Credit sourcebook clearly states that all lenders must have clear policies on how they must deal with debtors that are more vulnerable. If you feel your creditor is being unfair, you can report them to the FCA.
- If you have outstanding balance on your credit card or owe debt to a payday loan, your creditor may be following The Standards of Lending Practice: Personal Customers. These guidelines also have clear guidelines on how organisations must deal with clients that are in a particularly vulnerable situation.
- If you owe Council Tax debt, you can contact your local council and inquire if they have a vulnerability policy. They may have a list of types of individuals they consider to be vulnerable such as the elderly, people with disabilities, people with mental health difficulties, etc. If you fit within their guidelines, you could ask them to deal with your case accordingly.
- If you’re dealing with a bailiff, you may want to skim through Taking Control of Goods: National Standards. They have guidelines on how a bailiff can and can’t do. There are special guidelines on how a bailiff must act when dealing with someone in a vulnerable situation.
Is it Worth it to Try and Get My Debts Written Off Due to My Illness?
As I mentioned earlier, most creditors treat writing off debt as a last resort. You’ll only be able to get it approved if you have little to no assets and your illness prevents you from earning in order to pay off your debt.
If a creditor feels you’ll never be able to pay back your debt, then they may agree to write it off.
As I said, you may not be able to get your debt written off but you may be able to get your creditors to agree to some more flexible terms.
Debt and mental health issues are taken especially seriously. If you have a mental health issue, you can contact your creditor and ask them for some leeway.
Furthermore, you may not be able to get your debts written off just by contacting your creditors and telling them about your illness, but you could get some or all of them written off through a debt solution.
Some examples of debt solutions are an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), a Debt Relief Order (DRO) and Bankruptcy. By the end of all these processes, you are completely debt-free. However, all of them do have a very negative impact on your credit score.
Will I have Trouble Securing Future Credit?
You may get your creditors to write off your debt in some conditions. However, you must keep in mind that any missed or late payments that occurred due to your illness will stay within your credit file for six years.
Lenders refer to your credit history when trying to decide whether or not to give you a loan or not.
If a lender happens to see missed payments in your credit history from previous debts, they may ask you about how they came about.
Some lenders tend to be apprehensive about giving loans to people with health issues, be it physical or mental health. This is because they’re not confident in your ability to pay back the debt.
If you go into your loan application with a revised plan on how you intend to pay back the debt, this can go a long way in convincing your lender to approve your loan.
If a lender gets the notion that you have your illness under control and you will be able to reliably pay back the debt, they will definitely approve your loan.
If you’re having trouble securing credit, you could try seeking advice from an independent charity. They could turn you on to some lenders that give loans to people with poor credit scores. They may, however, have higher interest rates.
There are strict laws and guidelines in place in order to protect ill people that have debt from unfair practices. Always remember that you will never be asked to pay more money than you can afford.
If your affliction prevents you from paying back your debts at all, you have the right to request to get them written off.