Bankruptcy

I get inquiries fairly regularly concerning whether an individual that does not have a social security number may file for bankruptcy.  The answer is yes.  In one case out of the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, the court ruled that a debtor without a social security number may file for bankruptcy.  

In this case, it was impossible for the debtor to obtain a social security number, as the debtor was not a citizen of the United States, nor did the debtor hold resident alien status.  The debtor, notwithstanding, filed a petition under chapter 13.  The trustee administering the case sought to dismiss this case because the debtor did not disclose a social security number in the petition, as required by a Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure.  The judge decided that a social security number is not a requirement to filing for bankruptcy, as it is not a requirement listed in the Bankruptcy Code.  In re Merlo, 256 B. R. 502.

Contrast this case with a case from the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado, where a debtor who filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy listed a false social security number that he had purchased for $50.00.  In that case, the judge entered an Order denying a discharge of the debtor’s debts for use of a false and illegal social security number.  The judge opined that, while the Code does not require a debtor to have a social security number, the Bankruptcy Code allows a Court to prohibit discharge of debts for debtors who engage in illegal and criminal activity.  In re Perez, 2007 WL 2601406.

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