Reopen Help: Pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Many Americans who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic have been getting an extra $600 a week from the federal government -- but that is about to run out unless a new round of stimulus funding is passed.

Some will be forced to consider bankruptcy, and 7 On Your Side has the pros and cons of this type of protection.

"I just see myself going deeper and deeper into debt and with this happening now, I don't see a way out," said Schevon Lowe, a mother of three in Queens.

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With one in college and two little ones at home, she recently made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy.

The pandemic closed her catering business and without the additional $600 weekly benefit to help feed her family, she sees no other solution.

Lowe said she can't work, so she can't pay her bills -- which results in her getting more back up.

"People don't realize if you're middle class, it still means you don't have savings to cover three months of lost income," said Rohan Pavuluri.

Pavuluri founded the nonprofit Upsolve to help people like Lowe file for bankruptcy for free.

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"Bankruptcy is an important tool that is often stigmatized that can help people relieve their debt, rehabilitate themselves and re-enter the economy, so it's an option, but they are consequences," Pavuluri said.

Bankruptcy Cons:

-Can damage your credit score
-Stays on your credit report for 10 years
-Risk assets being seized by the court
-Can't use it for student loans

Bankruptcy Pros:

-You get immediate relief and a fresh start
-Dis-chargeable debt like credit card debt or medical bills will be erased
-You can prevent utilities from being shut off
-Wages won't be garnished

"People live paycheck to paycheck and haven't had a paycheck, you starve or you have to stand in line in order to get food from food banks, you have to wash your clothes in the sink, you cant afford to take the bus," Pavuluri said.

Lowe says she scared to file for bankruptcy protection but has to do what's right for her family.

"Right now I'm worried, really worried, I do hold out with some glimmer of hope for an extension, but it doesn't look hopeful as we all know." she said. " I wish we could just get some childcare, I want to go back to work, but who's going to help me watch my kids in a safe environment?"

Congress is not expected extend the benefit past the end of the month.

Advocates of pulling the additional money say more people will seek work, but with much of the country still not fully open for business yet, it will be a slow process.

The last checks go out July 25 and July 26.

For more resources and information, please visit upsolve.org.

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