The United States Trustee Program has released new Census Bureau data which is used for means testing calculations regarding Chapter 7 bankruptcy petitions, and for calculating the plan commitment period for Chapter 13 cases. Due to the updated figures, the various standards for the expenses in the "means test" form will change for all bankruptcy cases filed on or after November 1, 2011.
The new figures reflect a decrease in the median income, and will make it more difficult for individuals to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Additionally, the decrease in the median income, coupled with amendments to the National and Local standards may require a longer commitment period for Chapter 13 cases.
In Massachusetts, the new Median Family Income figures are as follows:
Family Size of 1: $53,496
Family Size of 2: $64,174
Family Size of 3: $80,337
Family Size of 4: $99,067
In addition, add $7,500 for each individual in excess of 4.
For a list of the updated median family income figures for other states, as well the updated National Standards and Local Standards is provided here.
If your household income exceeds the median income for your state of residence, other factors are considered for means testing criteria. In addition to updated median income figures, the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service have also updated National Standards for Food Clothing & Other Items; National Standards for Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses; and Local Standards for Housing, Utilities and Transportation.
While the changes in the Median Income, National Standards and Local Standards have effectively "raised the bar" for new Chapter 7 cases, the changes are not so significant to place bankruptcy out of reach for most individuals and families requiring assistance. If you would like to know more about your options for finding financial freedom, contact Attorney Matthew P. Trask for an initial debt-relief consultation, or call 508.655.5980.