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How to Write a Hardship Letter

Sarah Edwards | October 27, 2023

Sarah Edwards
Legal Expert
Sarah Edwards, BS

Sarah Harris is a professional researcher and writer specializing in legal content. An Emerson College alumna, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the prestigious Boston institution.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: You can use a hardship letter to request a delay or adjustment in your regular monthly payments to a lender. By laying out your reason for hardship and proposing a mutually beneficial solution, you may be able to delay or adjust payments without impacting your credit report. SoloSuit explains how.

According to recent data, nearly 78% of America’s workforce is living paycheck to paycheck. That’s fine when your bills and expenses fit into your budget, but an unexpected setback like a car repair can prevent you from paying your monthly debts. When that happens, you can use a hardship letter to ask lenders for time to get caught up.

Some lenders have their own processes for pausing or adjusting payment schedules. In other cases, you’ll need to contact the lender directly. Here’s what you need to know about writing a hardship letter.

What is a hardship letter?

A hardship letter is a document you send to a creditor explaining why you are unable to make a full monthly payment. Your letter should request a mutually beneficial solution. Creditors might work with you by:

  • Lowering your monthly payment amount.
  • Pausing your monthly payments.
  • Forgiving a past-due payment.
  • Adjusting your interest rate.
  • Waiving late fees and penalties.

In extreme cases, creditors may be willing to settle your debt for less than what you owe.

And if you’re facing debt collectors, you have a right to request debt validation before taking any action.

Write a hardship letter in 7 steps

Before you write a hardship letter, check with your creditors to see if they already have established procedures for delaying payments or making adjustments. These features are not uncommon with student loans and certain types of auto loans.

If that’s not the case, you can create a hardship letter by following these seven steps.

1. Write an introduction

Start by writing a brief introduction. Include details such as your full name and account number. Make it clear that you’re inquiring about hardship assistance.

2. Explain your hardship

Next, explain your financial circumstances. Identify the exact nature of your hardship, whether it’s a job loss, divorce, medical emergency, car repair, or other unforeseen event.

3. Describe your attempts to address your hardship

Creditors may be more lenient if you can identify steps you’ve taken to address your hardship. For example, you might clarify that you’ve already eliminated nonessential spending or taken on a part-time job to bring in additional income.

4. Request hardship assistance

As plainly as possible, state your request, such as temporarily delaying payments, waiving late fees, or forgiving this month’s payment. You’ll probably have more success if you request a temporary forbearance and assure your creditors that you will use that time to prepare to make future payments.

You can also settle your debt for less than the original amount. Keep reading to learn more.

5. Give a realistic timeline

Explain that if you are granted a temporary forbearance or some other form of relief, you expect to be able to recover within a reasonable amount of time, after which you will resume your normal payment schedule. Just remember to be realistic. Don’t promise a speedy recovery only to realize that you’re just as strapped the following month.

6. Submit supporting documentation

Providing proof of your hardship can help your case. Send a copy of your medical bills, unemployment notice, or other documents to demonstrate that you’ve hit an unexpected financial setback.

7. Keep making payments while waiting for a response

After submitting a hardship letter, keep making regular, on-time payments until you hear back from your creditor. Otherwise, you could damage your credit due to late or missed payments.

Will my creditor agree to my hardship letter?

Every creditor is different, so there’s no guarantee that your hardship letter will be accepted. But writing a letter gives you the best possible chance of experiencing relief.

Let’s look at an example of how to use a hardship letter.

Example: Janice bought a new car a year ago and had been making consistent on-time payments. But that was before she broke her leg in a skiing accident. Even with health insurance, her high deductible left her struggling to keep up with her bills. So, Janice wrote a hardship letter to her auto lender, explaining what had happened. She requested that the lender pause her payments for two months while she paid down her medical bills. While waiting for a response, she continued to make on-time payments. Once her lender agreed, she was able to pause payments and get financially caught up.

Respond quickly to debt collection lawsuits with SoloSettle.

Settle your debt after explaining your financial hardship

In extreme circumstances, you may need more than just a break from debt payments. If you get over your head with debt, the best way to resolve it may be through debt settlement.

If you can show that you are not in a position to pay off a debt, many creditors and debt collectors will work with you, but you may need to negotiate. When you settle a debt, you agree to pay off a percentage of the debt and be forgiven for the rest. The settlement clears your name of the debt for good as long as you get written documentation of the agreement.

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, can help you negotiate a settlement that works for you and your financial circumstances. Our software walks you through the negotiation process and documents all your communications with your creditor or collector.

Watch the following video for a real example of how Dianne, a SoloSuit customer, was able to settle her debt after experiencing financial hardship.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

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