9. October 2011 14:22
The first question that most people who are unfamiliar with bankruptcy have is, “How do I know if I qualify for a bankruptcy?” The answer is that almost everyone qualifies to file either a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. A better question is, “Do I qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?”
To begin with, let’s discuss the timeline qualification. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy can be filed only once every 8 years. So if it hasn’t been 8 years since the date that you filed your last Chapter 7 Bankruptcy then you must file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If the last bankruptcy you filed was a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and you received a discharge, 6 years must have passed from the Chapter 13 filing date before you can file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. However, if for some reason you never received a discharge in a previously filed bankruptcy, then you should consult a Bankruptcy Attorney to determine if you can file again.
Assuming that you meet the timeline requirements, the next step is to determine if you qualify under the Means Test. The Means Test is designed to determine whether you meet the income requirements to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or to determine how long your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will last. The income levels to file bankruptcy in Indiana change periodically, but as of the date of this post, a single person with no dependents and lives by him/herself must make under $40,105 annually, a two person household’s income must be under $51,104, a three person household’s income must be under $59,028 and a four person household’s income must be under $69,226. The income limit continues to increase with each additional person in the household. If you are filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and are over the Means Test income limit then you will be in a five year bankruptcy instead of the three year bankruptcy that you would be in if you were under the income limit. In general, if you are over the income limit then you are excluded from filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy; however, if you are close, you should consult with a knowledgeable Bankruptcy Lawyer to see if an exception may apply to your situation.