Social Security Income and the Means Test

When filing a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, a debtor must show that he passes the means test. The means test is basically a series of calculations that are supposed to show, in theory, whether or not the debtor has enough income to be able to pay back his creditors. To perform the means test, one must determine what the debtor’s income is. Almost all sources of income are to be taken account of on the means test. The amount of the income is determined by taking the six month average of the debtor’s various sources of income.

Social Security Income gets special treatment on the means test. It can be completely excluded. That means that Social Security Income does not have a negative impact when the means test is used to determine if someone may qualify for a Chapter 7.

The means test is not the only determining factor on what type of bankruptcy a person is allowed to file. The actual budget of a person is taken into consideration as well. This budget is represented on Schedules I and J. If Schedule J, shows a substantially positive amount, chances are that the debtor will not be able to qualify for a Chapter 7.

Social Security Income can also be excluded from a debtor’s budget. Therefore, it will not have an impact on a person’s qualification for a Chapter 7 here either.

If an individual wishes to file a Chapter 13, he may elect to include their Social Security income on his budget, so that he can show he does have enough income to afford a repayment plan.


By Kristen Whelchel

Written by Kris Whelchel

Kris Whelchel is an attorney practicing consumer bankruptcy. She handles both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.

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