Social Security Bankruptcy: Do you need a social security number to file bankruptcy?

I get inquiries fairly regularly concerning whether an individual that does not have a social security number may file for bankruptcy.  When it comes to social security 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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