The short and smug answer is "just complete Form 22." The answer you need to hear is that the "means test" calculations in Chapter 7 were never well-designed to facilitate self-representation. Even bankruptcy attorneys struggle with many issues related to the means test. What income counts, how household size is determined, what the median income is for your houshold size, what amounts are allowed for certain subsistence expenses, etc. etc., etc. are involved. Fortunately, many competent bankruptcy attorneys offer an initial consultation on a no-cost/no-obligation basis. if your income is less than the relevant median income level, an attorney might be able to give you that assurance as part of the initial consultation. If not, the same attorney will likely be willing to gather the needed data and perform the detailed means test analysis at a modest cost. This could be an important part of your bankruptcy investigation as it can also produce extremely useful information about what would be required in a Chapter 13 plan payment in the event that Chapter 7 is not available to you. if you do not know an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, use the attorney-finder at www.nacba.org. I am a longtime proud member of NACBA and trust my CA colleagues to advise accurately and aggressively protect your interests.
Best wishes for a favorble result, and please remember to designate a best answer.
This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
No, the credit counseling is required, but is not the same as the means test. Also, the means test is not the same as looking at your income vs. expenses.
The means test is a calculation to determine if you are eligible to file a Chapter 7. It is a form you need to complete as part of your bankruptcy filing. If you are not eligible, then you will need to determine if you want to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or seek other debt relief remedies.
The Means Test is a poorly designed mechanical approach used to determine if you are abusing chapter 7, and/or your minimum payment toward unsecured debt in a chapter 13. Congress was not very clear when it wrote the law, so the courts have been trying to sort it out since 2005. It needs to be prepared with the court interpretations affecting your specific district in mind. What seemed to be a straight forward directive regarding vehicles was being interpreted in various ways until the Supreme Court made its interpretation the law of the land a little over a year ago. This is why Ms. Sinclair and I urge you to seek competent local counsel by using the attorney finder at www.nacba.org.