Life should involve more than constantly wondering if you have enough money to pay your bills. Unfortunately, though, mortgages, credit card bills, student loans and medical debt can take up a significant chunk of anyone’s income. If you are a retiree or have a disability, you may have even more difficulty staying on top of your debt.

The United States has a Social Security system that pays benefits to many retirees and disabled individuals. If you receive Social Security benefits, they may be necessary for paying housing, transportation, food and other everyday costs. While filing for bankruptcy protection can be an effective way to climb out from under a mountain of debt, you do not want it to negatively affect your Social Security payments.

Social Security payments are not income for bankruptcy purposes 

If you receive Social Security benefits, you probably know that they usually constitute taxable income pursuant to the U.S. tax code. They are not, however, income for bankruptcy purposes. In fact, Social Security, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Social Security benefits are almost always out of reach to creditors during both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings.

Social Security payments do not affect the means test 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection allows you to get rid of certain assets and discharge some debts. To qualify for Chapter 7, generally, you must pass the means test. Basically, this test requires you to show that your income is below the norm for your geographical area. Because Social Security benefits are an asset instead of income, they typically do not affect the means test for Chapter 7 bankruptcy purposes.

Deciding whether to file for bankruptcy is a personal choice. Still, doing so may help you secure your financial future. Fortunately, if you receive Social Security benefits, you probably do not have to worry about them playing a negative role in your bankruptcy filing.