An individual or business can file for bankruptcy at any time. However, to be eligible to receive a discharge (eliminate qualifying debt), a certain amount of time must elapse between filings.
Here’s how it works (for individuals):
- If you previously received a Chapter 7 discharge, you’re eligible to receive another Chapter 7 discharge eight years after the filing, or a Chapter 13 discharge six years after the filing.
- If you previously received a Chapter 13 discharge, you’re eligible to receive a Chapter 7 discharge four years after the filing, or another Chapter 13 discharge two years after the filing.
A filer who is ineligible for a discharge can take advantage of another benefit of bankruptcy: Its ability to stop collection activity in its tracks.
For instance, suppose you found yourself buried deep in debt shortly after completing a prior bankruptcy. You could stop a creditor from emptying your bank account (bank levy) or deducting money from your paycheck (wage garnishment) by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Even though the obligation wouldn’t be wiped out, the collection activity would stop, and the Chapter 13 repayment plan would give you three to five years to pay off the debt.
Go to the main bankruptcy FAQ page.