Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Exemptions

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Like all states, Pennsylvania has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

In Pennsylvania, you may use either the Pennsylvania state exemptions (listed below), or the federal bankruptcy exemptions (you can find these in Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions). You cannot mix and match from each list. If you choose to use the Pennsylvania state exemptions, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.

Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Pennsylvania, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. This is informally called “doubling.”

To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, including how they work, which state exemption system you should use, and special rules for the homestead exemption, see Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy? 

Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated.

Homestead

None, but tenancies by the entirety are exempt without limit as to debts of one spouse.

Personal Property

42-8124 - Clothing, bibles, school books, sewing machines, uniform, and accoutrements.

Wages

42-8127 - Earned but unpaid wages; abuse victims' wages.

Pensions

11 U.S.C. § 522 - 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). 

11 U.S.C. § 522(b)(3)(C)(n) - IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,171,150.

16-4716 -County employees.

24-8533 & 42-8124 - Public school employees.

42-8124 - Private retirement benefits if plan states that proceeds cannot be used to pay creditors; exemption limited to deposits up to $15,000 per year if deposited at least 1 year before filing (limit doesn't apply to rollovers from other exempt funds).

53-764 & 53-776 & 53-23666 - Police officers.

42-8124 & 53-881.115 - Municipal employees.

53-13445 & 53-23572 & 53-39383 - City employees.

42-8124 & 71-5953 - State employees.

Public Benefits

18-11.708 - Crime victims' compensation.

42-8124 - Workers' compensation and unemployment compensation.

51-20012 - Veterans' benefits.

51-20098 - Korean conflict veterans' benefits.

Insurance

42-8124 - Fraternal benefit society benefits; insurance or annuity payments up to $100 per month if insured is the beneficiary; annuity or life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits proceeds from being used to pay creditors; group insurance policy or proceeds; annuity or life insurance proceeds if beneficiary is decedent's spouse, child, or other dependent relative; accident or disability insurance proceeds; no-fault automobile insurance proceeds.

Miscellaneous

15-8342 - Business partnership property.

Wildcard

42-8123 - $300 of any property.

Other 

Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.

Confirming Exemptions

This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Pennsylvania. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Pennsylvania may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated in June of 2011. Consider cross-checking this list with www.legalconsumer.com, which updates the state exemption amounts regularly, or check with your local bankruptcy court. 

by: , J.D.

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