In a nutshell, what Congress did was create an income/expense calculation that was supposed to coerce consumer debtors (it does not apply to debtors whose debts are primarily business-related) who are over a certain income threshold into filing a repayment plan under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, instead of allowing them to discharge debts through a Chapter 7.
The resulting means test is a somewhat complicated mathematical exercise; but luckily, Congress also put in a few "safe harbors." The most common safe harbor provides that if you make less than the median income for your household size in your state of residence, then you don't have to go through the full means test calculation. The United States Trustee's Office (the part of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for oversight of bankruptcy cases) has recently published revised median income figures, which are applicable for any bankruptcy case filed on or after May 1, 2017. For Massachusetts, those figures are:
- Household size of 1: $61,102
- Household size of 2: $76,414
- Household size of 3: $93,755
- Household size of 4: $113,651
- Add $8,400 for every household member over 4
Even if you're over the safe harbor amount, you still may be able to satisfy the means test if you have enough qualifying expenses, or can otherwise demonstrate special circumstances justifying a departure from the standard test (like a recent drop in income). Short of that, you could still file for bankruptcy under a different chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. In short, bankruptcy remains an option for just about everyone.