What Is Disposable Income in Bankruptcy?

By , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Disposable income is the amount that remains after subtracting allowed bankruptcy expenses from your monthly gross income. Your disposable income will determine whether you qualify to discharge (wipe out) debt in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Claiming Deductions in Bankruptcy

When you claim your deductions, you'll be able to use the actual cost of some expenses. For others, such as the allowance for food, clothing, and housing, you'll use the national and local standards.

Here's a list of some of the deductions you'll be allowed to take:

  • food and clothing
  • housing and utilities
  • transportation costs
  • taxes
  • involuntary payroll deductions
  • life insurance
  • court-ordered payments, such as family support
  • certain education costs
  • childcare expenses, and
  • health care costs

How Disposable Income is Determined in Bankruptcy

To determine your disposable income, you'll complete one of two forms, depending on the chapter you intend to file (each chapter allows for similar deductions).

Disposable Income in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In a Chapter 7 case, you'll complete the Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation form. You'll deduct allowed expenses to find your disposable monthly income. Next, you'll multiply that amount by 60 months. If the figure exceeds the maximum amount currently allowed (which will be listed on the form), you won't qualify for a discharge. Additionally, you might not qualify if your disposable income is sufficient to pay 25% or more of your unsecured, nonpriority debt (such as credit card balances, medical bills, and personal loans).

Disposable Income in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

In a Chapter 13 matter, you'll fill out the Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income form. The amount that remains after deducting expenses is your monthly disposable income. You'll pay that number to your unsecured, nonpriority creditors each month over the course of your three- to five-year repayment plan.

Because each case is different, determining whether you qualify for bankruptcy (as well as completing the appropriate forms) can be challenging. When in doubt, contact a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.

Get Professional Help
Get debt relief now.
We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you