Chase Forecloses On Family With Son Crippled By Rare Genetic Disorder

A family whose son has debilitating cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy got foreclosed on by Chase, just days after they were told their loan modification was approved.

Also known as ALD, cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy, is a rare genetic disorder that attacks the myelin sheath in the brain, leading to neurological dysfunction and often death. The 10-year old boy currently cannot see or walk and is confined to a wheelchair. Locals have held multiple fundraisers for him and his brother, who also has ALD.

Rushing around between operations and hospitals to save his life, the family missed a mortgage payment and wasn’t able to pay the full amount month to month after their savings were depleted by expensive procedures.

The parents acknowledged they were at fault for getting behind on their mortgage, but begged for some compassion in getting a loan modification. Chase told them their modification was ultimately denied because the family makes too much money.

In a statement to the Washington Post, Chase said it works hard “to courteously and respectfully help struggling homeowners stay in their homes when we can.”

If you’re trying to get a loan modification, ProPublica recommends:

1. Don’t Do It Alone – use friends and family for emotional support. Call the Treasury Department’s HOPE line at 1-888-995-HOPE for advice and action. Alert the media if you have a crazy case that needs traction.
2. Stay Organized – document your entire process, use certified letters, and take notes on everyone you talk to.
3. Keep Trying – treat the application process like a part-time job and be relentless about followup.

Va. family struggling with son’s genetic disorder faces new crisis: foreclosure [Washington Post] (Thanks to Kristen!)

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  1. taney71 says:

    My mother tried going through the loan mod program and its crap based on her experience. I wouldn’t trust it at all. NPR did a weekend segment on money etc. and a few people called in about the program and they had bad experiences with it.

    As for this family is it the bank’s fault that really crappy things happen to individuals and families? I mean my mother lost her home because she was let go but I don’t expect the bank to allow her to stay in it after she stopped paying.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Missing a loan payment because your two children are severely, severely ill is perhaps not the same as just not being able to pay. They say they can pay, just not the inflated “you missed a payment” payments.

      Honestly, caring for not one, but two ALD children would be incredibly draining and full-time. I’m surprised they had time to sort through ANY bills.

      • common_sense84 says:

        The problem is that is not an excuse.

        Yes, it is wrong to hit people with fines when they miss a payment. But you can’t just claim you deserve a break because of personal problems.

        • MustWarnOthers says:

          Yeah, you’re right. This is Capitalism goddamnit and there are rules!

          Find a Credit Union, tell these banks to go fuck themselves.

          Guess what happens when you’re a responsible, on-time payer at a Credit Union and you miss a payment due to a serious life issue. They help you out.

          • Gulliver says:

            Sorry, but that is some fantasy world you live in. They are not ONE payment behind. A responsible CU would also foreclose. As a member of a CU, I don;t think they should spend my money on the fact that their son is ill. Here is an idea. DON’T PAY THE DOCTORS. Make the hospital or doctor the bad guy who won’t treat your kid. Or run up a large medical bill and file bankruptcy. There are options.

          • abberz3589 says:

            I hate capitalism for this reason. It forgets that people are not robots.

        • GrantRyan says:

          What do you, personally, suggest they do? Or are they just completely out of luck?

    • apd09 says:

      the old mafia adage fits with the banks, it’s not personal it’s just business. If you give one person a pass then everyone else will want a pass for their problems as well and then the inmates will be running the asylum.

      It really sucks, but that is why some people prefer small local banks and/or credit unions to the larger banks like Chase, BOA, etc…

  2. Rudiger says:

    Sounds like a real bummer. Sounds like they got a raw deal believing the bank’s promises on their word alone. However, I don’t know how the child’s affliction should decide anything. Sounds real awful, but such things really shouldn’t dictate a bank’s business decisions.

    • OSAM says:

      Agreed. I dont wanna come off as being heartless, but the bank shouldn’t change the rules for exceptions.

    • JakeChance says:

      Agreed. This article would be worthy of the Consumerist had it just focused on the fact that they were foreclosed on after having being told their loan mod was approved. It truly sucks for the parents to have two diseased children but that’s not at all relevant to the issue at hand.

    • JamesBE says:

      Hey, I think I found your humanity under this pile of clothes.

      It looks like it hasn’t been used in a real long time.

  3. Commenter24 says:

    For those who won’t read the article, the husband makes $120k per year and the wife brings in another ~$10k in disability payments.

    • eddieck says:

      Which is nothing if you have two kids that require constant medical treatment. A lot of those doctors are out-of-pocket.

      • goodfellow_puck says:

        Exactly, which is what the bank should have taken into account after they looked at income. :(

        • njack says:

          Everyone in this situation has an excuse as to why they can’t pay. Where do you draw the line? Clearly this is a horrible situation, however if the bank sees that a family in no way can afford their home, it is their right and responsibility to take action to protect their (and their investor’s) assets. I think the worst part is they were originally told they had been approved for the modification.

          • mobiuschic42 says:

            But…that’s not what the bank said. The bank said they *could* afford their mortgage and was therefore not going to give them a modification.

          • JamesBE says:

            I believe the “struggling to help two dying children” is on the side of the line where the bank should give them a break.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      They’re probably paying a bundle in expenses related to the illnesses. Insurance won’t cover travel, copays, etc.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      Which is why we need decent health care reform. Right now most of us are one expensive illness away from being in the same place as these folks.

      • Buckus says:

        Did you also notice that, as retired Military, they get some of the best and least-expensive healthcare out there. TRICARE is paying for almost everything.

        • cluberti says:

          As someone with a severely handicapped child (not to this extent, but fairly close) and *good* healthcare from my employer (pays basically all of his bills), I can tell you that this is about 50% of the cost of long-term care for a child with severe needs. The other 50% are non-medical needs (like special furniture above and beyond a wheelchair, bath care, having a house that is accessible (good luck finding that in a lot of markets without buying or building new), travel, etc. I make a pretty good salary, and we have very little savings. Why? Because my son’s care costs a load of money that medical coverage won’t touch, because it’s not “medically necessary” for a good feeding high-chair so that the wife and I do not have to bend over and feed him and wreck my back 3 times a day, for example. They’ll pay for my back pain and trips to the doctor, but they won’t pay (a much smaller one-time fee) for the chair. Make sense? No. Welcome to healthcare in the US…

  4. Rackoff493 says:

    It puts people in very awkward situations. Do I feel bad for the family; of course and I would donate to help with their children’s disabilities. On the other side, you will find that many people have extreme circumstances that cause them to forgot payment. It is not the banks fault or the person who said no to their mortgage modification. If that person who denied them, fooled the system and passed it, they would probably get fired and then have another family who is out on the street.

    I think there should be special rights for families who are in these “extreme” circumstances and that the bank should not just simply foreclose on them.

  5. Rackoff493 says:

    It puts people in very awkward situations. Do I feel bad for the family; of course and I would donate to help with their children’s disabilities. On the other side, you will find that many people have extreme circumstances that cause them to forgot payment. It is not the banks fault or the person who said no to their mortgage modification. If that person who denied them, fooled the system and passed it, they would probably get fired and then have another family who is out on the street.

    I think there should be special rights for families who are in these “extreme” circumstances and that the bank should not just simply foreclose on them.

  6. TuxthePenguin says:

    Its sad… but how is this the bank’s fault? The couple signed an agreement with the bank that they would pay off their debt at a certain amount each month. They understood failure to do so would result in them losing the house.

    I fully understand the parent’s decision – its the same one I would make. They had a choice between their son and the house. Took me all of a second to decide that one.

    • Alvis says:

      Considering the prognosis of ALD, house seems like the better investment.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        You’re right, but having had known a family who lost a child to MS, I will never bemoan anything choosing to do everything possible to extend their life even another day. Normally I’ve very economical/utilitarian, but you cannot replace another month with that child. A house, you can.

  7. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Cue unnecessarily mean and clueless comments in 3… 2… 1…

    • The Marionette says:

      I think you’re a little late for that……

      But tuxthepengin is right, they did sign an agreement. Unless that agreement states somewhere that they can pay a smaller amount under certain circumstances, then they’re basically breaking that agreement.

  8. Buckus says:

    I don’t believe this is necessarily a good or bad article…it just kind of is what it is. The family confesses to missing their payments, and the bank does what it does when it doesn’t get the mortgage payment. I’m as pissed about this housing crisis as anyone, but I think this story doesn’t fall into the “Blame the bank” category.

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Their mortgage payments were $3,300 and they now have a major illness in the family to deal with.

    Honestly? This is probably a blessing. You clearly need to downgrade your home and use the difference to care for your son. People need to know how to strategically default on bad investments.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I totally agree. If they found a less expensive place to live, they would have more money to pay towards medical expenses. No one needs that much debt hanging over their heads with two sick children. People do need to know when to walk away.

    • MrEvil says:

      Hate to say it, but I agree. Yeah it sucks their kids have a rare genetic disorder that costs tons of money to treat. But life ain’t always going to deal you a winning hand.

      It’s all about prioritizing. I’d be looking to sell my $3300/mo house the second I got the bad news from my kids’ doctor, and if sale wasn’t an option I’d just tell the bank to come get the keys. I don’t care if I’d have to rent an apartment in some run-down complex in the midst of crack houses either.

  10. Dopaz says:

    “hm nd hs brthr, wh ls hs LD.” rrspnsbl brdng. hp th stppd.

    • AnonymousCoward says:

      It would depend on whether or not they knew that the first kid had ALD before they had the second kid, wouldn’t it?

    • yevarechecha says:

      RTFA and do some Googling before you make ignorant remarks. The child who is the focus of the article was diagnosed last year at age 9. His brother is only 3 years older, and ALD typically doesn’t show itself before age 4. So this family had no way of knowing one child had anything wrong with them before they already had a second. They thought the kid was autistic. This is not their fault.

      • Woofer says:

        *fwoosh*
        What’s that? That’s the /sarcasm tab flying right over your head.

        • danmac says:

          I didn’t read any sarcasm in the first comment at all.

          /not-sarcasm

          • Dopaz says:

            Yep, sarcasm was on. I’m not that big of an ass and have been watching WAY too many Animal Planet shows. (My drinking game is everytime someone says “irresponsible breeding” and “filth”. Two drinks per puppy/kitty talk)

            • danmac says:

              Ah…that’s good to know…and I’ll keep that in mind the next time you write something that’s completely dickish. I think they problem is that there are many people here who would write your original comment and mean it.

            • yevarechecha says:

              Well, I’m glad to know that, but sarcasm was totally unapparent from your post. There are TONS of people out there who actually will say terrible things like this and mean it.

        • runswithscissors says:

          I’d bet hard money it wasn’t sarcasm. It was typical “heartless internet b@stard tells it like it is” wanna-be bullsh!t.

  11. Costner says:

    Ok I’m going to sound heartless here, but the fact their son has cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy has nothing to do with the foreclosure, and it merely attempts to paint Chase as a heartless, soulless company who doesn’t care.

    The real issue here is the failure to follow-through on the loan modification, but it has jack to do with the son’s medical issues.

    Are we really going to start assuming companies should be more flexible with anyone and everyone who has a medical issue? How exactly do you plan to police that? Would banks need to start reading medical records to determine if they should foreclose?

    Come on – this is a sympathy ploy. It sucks their son has this condition, but they need to just get out of that house and into a rental so they can focus upon their family and forget about struggling to make a $3300 mortgage payment every month (which by the way is insane even for a family making $130k a year). Chalk this one up to a lesson learned and move on.

  12. massageon says:

    nd th prblm s????? Hr t s ppl, strght p, DN’T SPND MR THN Y RN. Smpl ngh. Bnks r BSNSS, ths s NT PRSNL. t dsn’t mttr f yr kd s sck, r y lst yr jb r whtvr yr sb str s. f y cn’t p, thn y hv t gt t. m S SCK f hrng bt ths ppl wh xpct vryn ls t hv t p xcpt thm. ngh s ngh. mrc ws nt blt n ppl wh rld n gvrnmnt hndts, nd w cn nt cntn n th crs w r n! nd f Str

    • El_Fez says:

      America was not built on people who relied on government handouts. . .

      *Ahem*

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Did the article say they bought the house after they knew they’d have two kids with debilitating illnesses? Also, you think that the fact that they can’t afford the house means it was ok for Chase to lie about the loan modification.

      Lastly, I think your anger is way out of proportion here.

    • rooben says:

      actually…America WAS built on government hand-outs. 100% of your infrastructure were funded from tax money. Thats the governement RIGHT THERE taking your hard-earned cash and handing it out to everybody.

      What a bunch of communists those Americans are!

    • danmac says:

      You’re right! I mean, when they discovered their child had a medical condition, they should have made the tough choice and taken him into the forest to let the wolves eat him! It’s survival of the fittest! Get out of our gene pool and get a job! And oh my god, the wife is on disability too!

      Also, the nerve of them to ask a bank for a loan modification so they can continue to keep paying their mortgage! I guess they’ll have no choice but to be REAL AMERICANS and walk away from the debt, declare bankruptcy, then find a better living situation.

      Dick.

    • runswithscissors says:

      JESUS. I had hoped that the commenters would have shred of humanity and decency in this story but no.

      They didn’t go out and buy a f#$ing mcmansion they couldn’t afford. Their kids got terribly, terribly sick and that’s killing their income.

      God damn it, it is actually depressing to know there are people this heartless and compassion-less, in this world.

      • myCatCracksMeUp says:

        Thank you for saying that. It’s what I would say if I had any energy left to respond to the heartless and cruel jackasses on this blog.

      • Alvis says:

        If they had to take out a mortgage to buy their house, that means they couldn’t afford it; the bank could.

        • myCatCracksMeUp says:

          Here in the real world everyone, even the rich, get mortgages to buy houses. Everyone except the rich would be unable to buy a house unless they got a mortgage. Having a mortgage does NOT mean you can’t afford a house.

  13. mbd says:

    The fact that their child is ill is irrelevant. Either they qualify for the loan modification or not. If they qualify and Chase screwed them, that would be a consumerist story.

  14. rpm773 says:

    Evidently, rare genetic disorders don’t pay mortgages.

    The good news is that there is no evidence that rare genitc disorders facilitate foreclosures, either.

  15. Hoss says:

    The mistake by Chase seems to be rescinding an approval which is gas on the fire but unless the family gets more financial support, I can’t see that the bank should become a caretaker for these children. Dad needs to let go of some of his pride for the sake of the family.

  16. Extended-Warranty says:

    This is a really unfortunate event and I feel for the family.

    With that said, I’m getting pretty sick of these stores that rip on the banks for foreclosing homes on those with “special circumstances”. No one plans on big life changes, but that doesn’t mean you become exempt from paying your mortgage. Once you make an exception for one person, 10,000 more want the same treatment.

  17. redheadsrbest says:

    Nowhere in the article does the family say that they want to live in this house for free. They are simply requesting some assistance in getting back on their feet.

    For all the comments that say “suck up your pride and move” I’m betting that you’ve never tried to find a house that is wheelchair-friendly. It costs a fortune to make a home truly accessible to a disabled person, and this family will likely have 2 children in wheelchairs soon.

    Foreclosing on a home where owners have been making a good-faith effort is ridiculous on the part of Chase. Not even taking into account the public relations nightmare that Chase is creating, it’s a poor business decision. It costs the bank much more to foreclose on this home than it does for them to restructure a payment plan that will allow the family to pay off the debt.

  18. ThunderRoad says:

    Fuck it – let the banks have the houses and just rent.

  19. AwesomeJerkface says:

    All this article proved was that Consumerists’ readers who are “against hand-outs” lack basic reading comprehension.

    1. Chase approved their loan modification.
    2. Chase foreclosed a few days later.
    2a. Haha! Remember when we approved your loan? Just kidding! PS. 10 days to move out.

    This isn’t a simple welfare, lazy-bums, sob, daytime talk show kind-of-story.

    This is a program in place to help people with extenuating financial circumstances to reduce the amount of foreclosures in this country. Chase has a lot of bureaucracy in place (like all lending banks) that makes it difficult to follow through in the program. These people basically got screwed as far the program is concerned.

    They’re not shirking responsibility for payment; they’re holding Chase accountable for dropping the ball on the restructuring of the payment.

    • danmac says:

      Couldn’t have said it better.

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      Wow. Can you learn me to comprehend the things I read? That’s AMAZING! It’s like a super power.

    • tbax929 says:

      I agree, and I think your screnname is not at all accurate.

      Thank you for actually reading and understanding the article. You must be new around here!

    • diagoro says:

      I have a loan with EMC/Chase, and have been screwed numerous times by their ‘Loan Modification’ dept. Twice I followed the terms of the agreement (to the letter), only to be told that we failed to comply. One was denied for “failure to cooperate”, as they don’t allow direction contact with agents, I could only leave messages that I called. The rep would call back after four days while I was at work an unable to answer the phone (the next time I was away from the phone). The second was denied without reason. From my experience, the entire modification program is used to get in extra payments under false pretenses.

      In addition to that (and as a result) I’m in the final processes of a short-sale. Yet last week, when the EMC Evaluator was doing final application approvals, they have someone place the house up for foreclosure sale!

      Yes, I lost my home because of a personal relationship issue and lack of income. That’s my own fault, straight out. But EMC, and I’m guessing most of the other companies, have done everything to string me along. Even the H.O.P.E. program is a sham (I was approved, than denied, than approved). I didn’t demand handouts, but had a chance to keep the home and lost that as well.

      From my experience with Chase, this family probably got a raw deal, and it’s not surprising they were told two different things at once.

  20. Buckus says:

    Did anybody read the entire story? The “modification” they were promised only cut about $200 a month off the mortgage. Whoop-dee-doo. They wouldn’t have been able to stay anyways, I’m afraid. Cutting $200 off a $3,300 mortgage isn’t nothing, but it’s pretty close to it.

  21. common_sense84 says:

    Please stop pretending loan modifications are viable options. No one gets them. And the select few that get them, get nothing more than deferred interest payments. Meaning that they can pay less per month, but the extra they cannot pay goes into the principal, so the size of the loan increases as they make their payments.

  22. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Universal Health Care. Medical bills won’t push you over the edge when you get sick.

  23. jp7570-1 says:

    “Denied because the family makes too much money”? I’m sorry but that is an absolutely ridiculous reason! And just how money do the top Chase suits make, huh?

    This typifies one of the problems with our financial industry. If they ignore unique and extraordinary circumstances in favor of sticking to “standard practices” (whatever constitutes those nowadays), then these banks are directly responsible for putting families like this in this position.

    The last things mortage banks really want is to take back a house, because they really don’t want that on their books. So how about some common sense Chase?

  24. diagoro says:

    (apologies for the double post….)

    I have a loan with EMC/Chase, and have been screwed numerous times by their ‘Loan Modification’ dept. Twice I followed the terms of the agreement (to the letter), only to be told that we failed to comply. One was denied for “failure to cooperate”, as they don’t allow direction contact with agents, I could only leave messages that I called. The rep would call back after four days while I was at work an unable to answer the phone (the next time I was away from the phone). The second was denied without reason. From my experience, the entire modification program is used to get in extra payments under false pretenses.

    In addition to that (and as a result) I’m in the final processes of a short-sale. Yet last week, when the EMC Evaluator was doing final application approvals, they have someone place the house up for foreclosure sale!

    Yes, I lost my home because of a personal relationship issue and lack of income. That’s my own fault, straight out. But EMC, and I’m guessing most of the other companies, have done everything to string me along. Even the H.O.P.E. program is a sham (I was approved, than denied, than approved). I didn’t demand handouts, but had a chance to keep the home and lost that as well.

    From my experience with Chase, this family probably got a raw deal, and it’s not surprising they were told two different things at once.

  25. Extended-Warranty says:

    Another option here is to stop the mega monopoly that hospitals have. I understand that doctors and nurses work hard and deserve to be paid more. However, what other profession do you work 35 hours a week and have 6 weeks of vacation every year?

    Hospitals are a complete joke. It’s all about profit and if you ever have a serious health issue, prepare to be bankrupted. You can’t shop around and buy cheaper surgery on Amazon. Hospitals need to be regulated more than our banks at this time.

  26. brio says:

    You have know about his disease so you feel more sorry for the family. Why else would they tell us that detail?!? I would think the bank could be somewhat forgiving & give them an opportunity to catch up. But, idk. It’s a sucky situation. Mostly for the family. However, it is a home loan. I wouldn’t EXPECT a bank to care about anyone.

  27. senior chick says:

    I dealt with Chase Bank for a few years, and they were the worst people to deal with. We finally got out of their clutches, and paid off our debts a number of years ago. Now we only deal with a credit union, but the bank still continues to send offers of credit cards through the mail.

    On the other hand we deal with Morgan Stanley for our pensions, and also refinanced through them.

    I do think that that it is cruel, due to the family’s circumstances for them to be hounding them. They should surely know also that this is bad publicity for their bank.

  28. JamesBE says:

    Just so we’re all on the same page here…

    Store forcing you to show your receipt while leave = outrage.

    Bank foreclosing on a family with two dying children = a-okay.

    You people make me sick. Sure, it’s not the “bank’s fault” that the family couldn’t make their mortgage payment on time, but…so what? They could be human and help the family out, couldn’t they?

    What is wrong with you people?

  29. Razor512 says:

    hospitals are a major problem here also, They take advantage of people by ripping them off. for example, one time I got sick and was in the emergency room for about 2 hours, all they did was give me a small checkup and prescribed some antibiotics and gave me the first dose in the hospital. northshore LIJ billed insurance $4000.

    out of all the time i was there, it probably only took a doctor, 10 minutes of their time (the actual examination was done by medical student)

    If you have a life threatening illness even if the cost of treatment is cheap, they will charge you more.

    With banks, it is expected of them to try and rip people off, they will do what ever is most profitable.

    Hospitals have the added leverage of holding your life ransom and can make a profit for any decision