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2013 Report Shows Fewer Debtor Assets, More Repeat Bankruptcy Filers

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Individuals filing for bankruptcy in 2013 reported fewer assets, lower total liabilities, and lower median income when compared to filers in the preceding year, according to a report recently filed by the federal Judiciary with Congress. The report also found that in 2013 a greater proportion of debtors were repeat filers.

The report, which the Judiciary is required to file annually under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA), focuses on individuals with predominantly consumer debt. Among the data collected:

  • In calendar year 2013, 1 million bankruptcy petitions were filed by individuals with predominantly consumer debt, down 12 percent from the 1.1 million bankruptcy petitions filed by individuals with consumer debt in 2012.
  • Total assets reported by consumer debtors fell 22 percent below the comparable 2012 number. Of these assets, 69 percent were categorized as real property, and 31 percent as personal property.
  • Total debtor liabilities fell 21 percent below the comparable data for 2012.
  • Median average monthly income reported by all debtors was $2,667, down 3 percent from 2012
  • Median average reported monthly expenses were $2,674, also 3 percent lower than in 2012.
  • In 33 percent of the 319,010 chapter 13 cases filed during 2013, debtors reported they had filed for bankruptcy protection during the previous eight years, 3 percent more than in 2012.
  • A total of 336,858 Chapter 13 consumer cases filed on or after October 17, 2006 were closed by dismissal or plan completion in 2013. In 45 percent of the cases, the debtors were discharged after completing repayment plans, up from 37 percent in 2012 and 22 percent in 2011.
  • Nationwide, failure to make plan payments was cited in 52 percent of cases as the reason for dismissal.

Bankruptcy statistics in the report are itemized by chapter of the Bankruptcy Code and report only data in cases filed by individual debtors with predominantly consumer debts (consumer cases). Many BAPCPA tables, particularly those reporting data on debtors’ assets, liabilities, income and expenses, rely on data provided by debtors when they submit required forms, schedules, motions, agreements and other filings. Most of these data are not validated either by the courts or the AO.

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