I want to apply to have the bankruptcy filing fee waived-do I still need an attorney?

I’m on SSI and I want to file bankruptcy. Which chapter do I file? I also want to apply to have the filing fee waived.  How would that work? Do I still need an attorney?

Asked on June 25, 2009 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Since you are on SSI, there are obviously severe income limitations here, so a Chapter 7 filing will most probably be appropriate for you.  There is a "means test" that you will need to complete to see if you qualify. 

If you are eligible for filing a Chapter 7, you will then need to see if you are also eligible to get the filing fee waived.  A debtor’s application requesting a fee waiver must be filed along with the voluntary bankruptcy petition.  The debtor’s income must be less than 150% of the applicable official poverty line based on family size to be eligible for a Chapter 7 filing fee waiver.  The poverty figures may be found at http://aspe.hhs.gov/POVERTY/

To determine the income eligibility, a debtor must include a non-filing spouse’s income (unless the spouses are separated) and the monthly net income of any dependents of the debtor who are part of the debtor’s stated family size.  In addition to the above, the debtor must be unable to pay the filing fee in installments.

Note:  If for some reason you are ineligable to file a Chapter 7, you will then need to file a Chapter13.  The fees cannot be waived pursuant to a Chapter 13 filing.

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