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August 2011

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2010 Report Shows Number, Assets and Debts of Bankruptcy Filers Increased

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Mean Net Scheduled Debt Per Consumer Bankruptcy Filing, 2010

Mean Net Scheduled Debt Per Consumer Bankruptcy Filing, 2010

The total assets and debts of individuals filing non-business bankruptcy petitions increased in 2010, according to a report filed with Congress this month. The report examines the 1.5 million consumer cases filed in 2010 and the 1.3 million consumer cases filed after October 17, 2006, and closed during calendar year 2010. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) provides that clerks of the bankruptcy courts “shall collect statistics regarding debtors who are individuals with primarily consumer debts seeking relief under chapters 7, 11, and 13 of Title 11.” The complete report is available online at www.uscourts.gov/Statistics/BankruptcyStatistics.aspx.

During calendar year 2010, more than 1.5 million bankruptcy petitions were filed by individuals with predominately nonbusiness debt, an increase of 9 percent over the number of filings in calendar year 2009. Data on assets, liabilities, and income are self-reported by debtors when they submit forms, motions, agreements, and other filings, and are not validated by the courts. The reports do not identify the names of filers. The 2010 statistics were disproportionately affected by two debtors, one of whom filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition claiming assets of nearly $99 billion and debts of nearly $16,000, and another who filed a chapter 13 petition reporting $97 billion in assets against $100 billion in liabilities. These two petitions account for 48 percent of all assets and 21 percent of all liabilities reported by debtors eligible for inclusion in the 2010 report.

The following statistics exclude these two petitions.

  • Total assets reported by consumer debtors in 2010 rose to $211 billion, which was 5 percent over reported numbers in 2009. Eighty percent of assets were categorized as real property and 20 percent as personal property. Filers in the Central District of California reported the largest amount of total assets for any district ($27 billion), followed by the Eastern District of California ($12 billion), and the Northern District of California ($10 billion). The mean filer nationwide reported $149,000 in assets at filing.

  • Total liabilities of 2010 consumer debtors rose 15 percent over 2009 to $374 billion. Overall, debtors categorized 97 percent of all debts and obligations as dischargeable debt. The highest total for liabilities was for debtors in the Central District of California ($45 billion), followed by debtors in the District of New Jersey ($41 billion). The mean for debtors nationwide was $265,000 in liabilities at filing.

  • The median average monthly income reported by all debtors was $2,800, an increase of 3 percent over 2009. The median average reported monthly expenses were $2,872, 2 percent higher than in 2009. The Northern District of California had the highest median average monthly income at $3,705 and the highest median average monthly expenses at $4,040. The District of Puerto Rico had the lowest median average monthly income at $1,766, and the lowest median average expenses at $1,610.

    The BAPCPA Report also includes data on 1.3 million individual non-business cases filed after October 17, 2006, and closed in 2010.

  • Approximately 85 percent of the 1.3 million closed consumer cases included in the 2010 report were closed under chapter 7, about 15 percent were terminated under chapter 13, and fewer than 1 percent were closed under chapter 11.

  • Of the closed cases included in the report, the mean time interval from filing to disposition was 230 days and the median time interval was 124 days. The mean is 14 percent higher than for 2009, and the median is one day greater than in 2009. The median time interval for closed chapter 7 cases included in the report was 120 days, the same as 2009. The median time intervals for closed chapter 11 cases (322 days, up from 296 days in 2009) and closed chapter 13 cases (399 days, up from 337 days in 2009) increased due, at least in part, to more cases with completed plans being included in the 2010 report than were included in the 2009 report.