The Means Test is the test used to determine if your income is low enough to file for Chapter 7 relief. The formula that Congress created is to keep higher income earners from filing for Chapter 7. If you fail the Means Test, that means you are ineligible to file a Chapter 7. If you still need to file for Bankruptcy relief, you would be required to file a Chapter 13 and enter into a 3-5 year repayment plan for some of your debts.
How the Means Test works is in two stages. The 1st stage is when we look at the past 6 months of your household income and compare it to the median income for your particular household size in your particular state. If your monthly income based on the past 6 months is lower than that of the median income for your particular household size, you pass the Means Test and you are eligible for a Chapter 7 based on your income. If, however, your income is above the median income for your household size, you must move forward to the 2nd stage.
Stage 2 is where you will deduct certain allowed expenses (i.e. mortgage payment, car payment, etc.) from your gross income to determine your disposable income. If you are left with enough disposable income to pay back certain debts (i.e. credit cards), you are again ineligible for a Chapter 7 and will need to consider a Chapter 13. The amount that is left over will help determine what your Chapter 13 plan payment would be. If you are not left with any disposable income after deducting the allowed amounts, you pass the means test and are eligible to file for Chapter 7.