DEFINITION of 'Wage Earner Plan (Chapter 13 Bankruptcy)'
Also known as a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, this enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts for a period of three to five years. The repayment period depends on the debtor's monthly income as compared to the applicable state median. During this repayment period, the law forbids creditors from starting or continuing collection efforts.
Chapter 13 was formerly called a wage earner's plan because relief under it was only available to individuals who earned a regular wage. Subsequent statute changes expanded it to include any individual, including the self-employed and those operating an unincorporated business.
BREAKING DOWN 'Wage Earner Plan (Chapter 13 Bankruptcy)'
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers individuals a number of advantages over Chapter 7, the most important being that it offers them an opportunity to save their homes from foreclosure. Chapter 13 also allows individuals to reschedule secured debts - except for a mortgage on their primary residence - and extend them over the life of the plan, which may lower their payments. In addition, Chapter 13 has a special provision that may protect co-signers, and also acts like a consolidation plan under which plan payments are made to a trustee who distributes them to creditors.
Any individual is eligible for Chapter 13 relief as long as his or her unsecured debts are less than $360,475, and secured debts are less than $1,081,400 (as of 2010), and he or she has received credit counseling within 180 days before filing. A corporation or partnership is not eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.