Faces of loan modification: Kathy Partak, Auburn, Calif.

How well is the government's loan modification working? WalletPop's four-part special report continues with profiles of some of those trying to get help. To read the overview, click here.

Kathy Partak went into loan modification armed with the powerful combination of knowledge and motivation. She had worked in the mortgage business, so she knew her rights and the right vocabulary to use. And she had a step-rate loan that was about to step up dramatically.

Add to that an on-the-job shoulder injury that left her unemployed and Partak figured she was a perfect candidate for modifying the loan on her three-bedroom home in Auburn, Calif.

But Chase Manhattan Bank denied her a modification, Partak said, telling her, "Unemployment is not a permanent hardship."

"Hopefully not!" said Partak, 42. "But it's one of the reasons they allow for on their paperwork of qualification."