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Bankruptcy Act Means Test

Under the 2005 Bankruptcy Act your income and expenses will be analyzed to determine if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 or if you must file Chapter 13. To apply the means test, the courts will look at your average income for the 6 months prior to filing and compare it to the median income for that state. If your income is below the median, then you may choose Chapter 7. If your income exceeds the median, the remaining parts of the means test will be applied to determine if you can file Chapter 7 or if you must file Chapter 13.

Your will likely still be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you are unable to pay at least $6,000 over the next five years ($100 per month) to your unsecured creditors after your expenses. However, if you can pay at least $10,000 over five years ($166.67 per month or more) your Chapter 7 will likely be denied.
If you could afford more than $6,000 but less than $10,000 over five years, then a mathematical calculation determines whether your Chapter 7 will likely be successful or not. If you could afford to pay 25% or more of your unsecured debt, then a Chapter 7 will likely be denied. If you can’t afford to pay 25% of your unsecured debt, your Chapter 7 filing will likely be successful. Examples of unsecured debts would include medical and credit card bills. You can still opt for Chapter 13 even if you qualify to file under Chapter 7.

The new partnership law excludes social security disability from computations of monthly income when the debtor determines whether he is under the applicable median income and exempt from means testing.

How High is Your Income?
Under the new rules, the first step in figuring out whether you can file for Chapter 7 is to measure your “current monthly income” against the median income for a family of your size in your state. Your “current monthly income” is not your income at the time you file, however: It is your average income over the last six months before you file. For many people, particularly those who are filing for bankruptcy because they recently lost a job, their “current monthly income” according to these rules will be much more than they take in each month by the time they file for bankruptcy. Once you’ve calculated your income, compare it to the median income for your state. If your income is less than or equal to the median, you can file for Chapter 7. If it is more than the median, however, you must pass “the means test” — another requirement of the new law — in order to file for Chapter 7.

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