DEFINITION of 'Means Test'

A method for determining whether someone qualifies for a financial-assistance program. A common means test is the one used to determine eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Means testing is also used in distributing Medicare benefits and has been suggested as a solution for the Social Security problem.

BREAKING DOWN 'Means Test'

Since debts do not have to be repaid under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it is supposed to be limited to bankruptcy filers experiencing the greatest hardship. People who do not pass the Chapter 7 means test are limited to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which establishes a repayment plan for debts.

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