4. Understand how surplus income affects your bankruptcy

If you do not make your , your trustee must tell the courts that you have not paid. Usually, you can’t get discharged from until you pay the surplus income you owe.

You can usually get a if all of the following are true:

  • it is your first bankruptcy,
  • if you are not married,
  • no one objects to your bankruptcy, and
  • you meet all of your bankruptcy obligations.

If your average monthly surplus income is less than $200 per month, you can be discharged in 9 months. If your average monthly surplus income is more than $200 per month, you can be discharged after 21 months.

After 7 months, your trustee will calculate your average monthly surplus income payments. For example:

Monthly Surplus Income Payment


Month 1


Month 2


Month 3


Month 4


Month 5


Month 6


Month 7


Total Surplus Income Paid




Average Surplus Income Calculation


Average surplus income payment
(Total paid / number of months)

$1573 / 7 = $224.71

Average surplus income
(average surplus income payment x 2)

$224.71 x 2 = $449.42



The calculations are more complicated if this is not your first bankruptcy. For example, someone who has filed for bankruptcy a second time and has surplus income must make surplus income payments for 36 months. Your trustee can tell you the amount of your surplus income payments and how long you will have to make those payments.

You must always pay off all the surplus income you owe before you are discharged.

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