What is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test?
Before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will have to qualify through a Chapter 7 means test. Although there was a lot of media hype about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test disqualifying people from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy when it was introduced in 2005, the truth is that more than 96% of potential Chapter 7 petitioners still qualify. In the unlikely event that you are one of those few who do not, filing bankruptcy may still be an option; this time in the form of Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Here are some reasons why filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy may not work for you
The Chapter 7 means test is a two-step process which begins with a median income comparison. Explaining this first step of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test in more detail, your monthly income is compared to the median income in your state for a family that is the same size as yours. If your income is at or below the median income, you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your income is higher than the median income, it doesn’t mean that you can’t file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but rather triggers the second step of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test.
Calculating disposable income and unsecured debts is the second step of the Chapter 7 means test. If your disposable income over the next five years is less than $6,000 ($100/month), you “pass” the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test and can thus file for Chapter 7. A local bankruptcy attorney can further explain how disposable income is calculated. If your disposable income during that five year period is greater than $6,000 but less than $10,000, you may still be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, depending upon your allowed expenses.