Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

A list of current dollar amounts for the federal bankruptcy exemptions, and which states allow you to use them.

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The federal bankruptcy exemptions are a list of exemptions created by Congress that are available to bankruptcy filers in certain states. 

Bankruptcy exemptions determine what you are allowed to keep during and after Chapter 7 bankrupty. If property (such as your home, car, or musical instrument) is exempt, you may keep it. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, exemptions determine how much you must pay certain creditors through your payment plan.

All states have a set of exemptions that bankruptcy filers can use. Seventeen states allow debtors to choose between their state system or the federal bankruptcy exemptions.

States That Allow the Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

The states that allow use of the federal bankruptcy exemptions are:

Alaska New Jersey
Arkansas New Mexico
Connecticut New York
District of Columbia Oregon
Hawaii Pennsylvania
Kentucky Rhode Island
Massachusetts Texas
Michigan Vermont
Minnesota Washington
New Hampshire Wisconsin

If you live in one of the above states, you may choose between using the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the exemption system created by your state. You cannot mix and match from the two different systems.

Choosing Between State and Federal Exemptions

To determine which set of exemptions is best for you -- state or federal -- make list of your property and it's value. Then compare what property you can keep under each system. (To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions and how they work, see Bankrutpcy Exemptions -- What Do I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?)

Current Amounts for Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

The amounts allowed under the federal bankruptcy exemptions are adjusted every three years ending on April 1 to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The federal bankrutpcy exemptions were last adjusted in 2010. 

If you are married and filing jointly, you may double all of the federal bankruptcy exemptions. For example, you may claim a homestead exemption of $45,950 (which is double the listed homestead exemption amount of $22,975).

If a dollar amount does not accompany a listed piece of property, the entire value of the property is exempt.

All code references are to 11 U.S.C. (Title 11 of the United States Code). 

Homestead

522(d)(1), (5) - Real property, including mobile homes and co-ops, or burial plots up to $22,975. Unused portion of homestead, up to $11,500 may be used for other property.

Personal Property

522(d)(2) - Motor vehicle up to $3,675.

522(d)(3) - Animals, crops, clothing, appliances and furnishings, books, household goods, and musical instruments up to $575 per item, and up to $12,250 total.

522(d)(4) - Jewelry up to $1,550.

522(d)(9) - Health aids.

522(d)(11)(B) - Wrongful death recovery for person you depended upon.

522(d)(11)(D) - Personal injury recovery up to $22,975 except for pain and suffering or for pecuniary loss.

522(d)(11)(E) - Lost earnings payments.

Pensions

522(b)(3)(C) - Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans). 

522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,245,475.

Public Benefits

522(d)(10)(A) - Public assistance, Social Security, Veteran’s benefits, Unemployment Compensation.

522(d)(11)(A) - Crime victim’s compensation.

Tools of Trade

522(d)(6) - Implements, books and tools of trade, up to $2,300.

Alimony and Child Support

522(d)(10)(D) - Alimony and child support needed for support.

Insurance

522(d)(7) - Unmatured life insurance policy except credit insurance.

522(d)(8) - Life insurance policy with loan value up to $12,250.

522(d)(10)( C ) - Disability, unemployment or illness benefits.

522(d)(11)( C ) - Life insurance payments for a person you depended on, which you need for support.

Wildcard

522(d)(5) - $1,225 of any property, and unused portion of homestead up to $11,500.

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