March Consumer Bankrutcy Filings Increase 41 Percent Over Last Year

March Consumer Bankrutcy Filings Increase 41 Percent Over Last Year

Contact: John Hartgen
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April 2, 2009, Alexandria, Va.— U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings increased 41 percent nationwide in March from the same period a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC). The overall March consumer filing total of 121,413 represented nearly a 24 percent increase from the February total of 98,344. Chapter 13 filings constituted 25 percent of all consumer cases in March, nearly a 5 percent decrease from February.

“Given the great financial stress facing U.S. households today, the March numbers are consistent with our prediction of over 1.4 million consumer filings for 2009,” said ABI Executive Director
Samuel J. Gerdano.


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes more than 12,000 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit For additional conference information, visit

*Definitions from Bankruptcy Overview: Issues, Law and Policy, by the American Bankruptcy Institute

Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is available to both individual and business debtors. Its purpose is to achieve a fair distribution to creditors of the debtor’s available non-exempt property.  Unsecured debts not reaffirmed are discharged, providing a fresh financial start.  

Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for both business and consumer debtors. Its purpose is to rehabilitate a business as a going concern or reorganize an individual’s finances through a court-approved reorganization plan.

Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code is designed to give special debt relief to a family farmer with regular income from farming. 

Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for an individual with regular income whose debts do not exceed specific amounts; it is typically used to budget some of the debtor’s future earnings under a plan through which unsecured creditors are paid in whole or in part.