How much debt do you have to have to file bankruptcy?

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Filing for bankruptcy is a significant decision that individuals may consider when overwhelmed by their financial obligations. One common question that arises is, “How much debt do you have to have to file bankruptcy?” The answer to this question varies depending on several factors, including the type of bankruptcy being filed and the specific circumstances of the individual’s financial situation. In this article, we will explore the different types of bankruptcy and the debt thresholds associated with each.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, is the most common type of bankruptcy filed by individuals. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, individuals must pass the means test, which compares their income to the median income in their state. If their income falls below the median, they are typically eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Debt Threshold: There is no specific debt threshold to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, having a significant amount of unsecured debt, such as credit card debt or medical bills, is often an indicator that an individual may benefit from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as reorganization bankruptcy, allows individuals to create a repayment plan to pay off their debts over a period of three to five years. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is no means test to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Instead, individuals must have a regular source of income to demonstrate their ability to repay their debts.

Debt Threshold: To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, individuals must have unsecured debts less than $419,275 and secured debts less than $1,257,850. Unsecured debts include credit card debt, medical bills, and personal loans, while secured debts are typically associated with assets such as homes or cars.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is primarily used by businesses, but individuals with substantial debts may also file for this type of bankruptcy. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows individuals to reorganize their debts while continuing their operations or personal finances.

Debt Threshold: There is no specific debt threshold for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, it is generally recommended for individuals with debts exceeding the limits of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.


The amount of debt required to file for bankruptcy depends on the type of bankruptcy being pursued. Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not have a specific debt threshold, but having a significant amount of unsecured debt is often an indicator of eligibility. Chapter 13 bankruptcy has specific debt limits for both unsecured and secured debts. Chapter 11 bankruptcy, primarily used by businesses, does not have a specific debt threshold but is generally recommended for individuals with substantial debts.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it is crucial to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney who can assess your financial situation and guide you through the process.


– United States Courts:
– Internal Revenue Service:
– Legal Information Institute: