Understanding the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test

For individuals burdened by overwhelming debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers a potential path to debt relief. However, before filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors must navigate the means test—a crucial evaluation of their financial situation.

In this blog post, we will delve into the details of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test, providing valuable insights to help you understand its purpose, how it works, and whether you qualify for this form of debt relief.

What is the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test?

The means test serves as a method to determine eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, primarily focusing on whether an individual has the means to repay their debts. The test takes into account factors such as family size, income, and expenses to assess whether a debtor qualifies for Chapter 7 relief. If a debtor’s income exceeds the specified limit, their bankruptcy application may not be approved.

Debt relief options in Michigan

Understanding the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test

  1. Calculation of Current Monthly Income: To begin the means test, debtors calculate their current monthly income, which equates to twice the gross income earned in the six months leading up to the bankruptcy filing. This income is then compared to the median income for their state, taking into account family size. If the debtor’s income falls below the state’s median income, they are generally eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  2. Deductible Expenses: Having an income higher than the state’s median does not automatically disqualify a debtor. Certain expenses can be deducted from their income, which may impact their eligibility. Debtors should familiarize themselves with their state’s allowed deductible expenses and subtract that amount from their current monthly income to determine their disposable income. If the disposable income still exceeds the state median, Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility may be uncertain.

Calculating Household Income

Debtors must gather relevant documentation and accurately calculate their gross monthly income. This includes wages, pension, alimony, child support, rental income, and other regular forms of income. The total income earned in the last six months should be divided by six to establish an average monthly income. Notably, social security income should not be included in the gross monthly income calculation.

Necessary Documents for the Means Test

To complete the means test, debtors must fill out various forms, with the specific forms depending on the type of debt. However, the following forms are commonly required:

  1. Declaration of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse
  2. Means Test Calculation Report
  3. Statement of Current Monthly Income

Debtors whose current monthly income falls below their state’s median income for their family size only need to file the Statement of Current Monthly Income. However, if their income surpasses the median, they must also complete the Means Test Calculation form to determine their eligibility based on the results.

Exceptions to the Means Test:

Debtors can be exempt from the means test if the majority of their debt does not fall under consumer debt. In cases where non-consumer debt outweighs consumer debt, the means test may not be necessary. It is essential to note that tort claims, which involve compensating another party for injury or damage caused without excuse, do not qualify as consumer debts.

Navigating the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test is a crucial step in determining eligibility for debt relief. By understanding the test’s purpose, calculation process, and necessary documentation, individuals can evaluate their qualifications and make informed decisions about their financial future. If you find yourself overwhelmed by debt, consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney can provide invaluable guidance throughout the bankruptcy process.

Are you buried in debt and need relief? Find out if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you by contacting The Mitten Law Form for a free consultation.