- 9th Cir. BAP No. EC-15-1091-JuFD (published Feb. 19, 2016)
- The exclusion from a Chapter 13 debtor's "disposable income" for “benefits received under the Social Security Act” also excludes Adoption Assistance payments; such payments are “benefits received under the Social Security Act” and are excluded from the debtor's “current monthly income.”
- Procedural context:
- Chapter 13 Debtor appeals from the bankruptcy court’s order denying the confirmation of her Chapter 13 plan. A divided BAP panel reversed the bankruptcy court order.
- The Debtor received $1,422 per month in Adoption Assistance payments under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. That act established a program of federal payments to participating states to provide funds for financial assistance to families adopting special needs children from foster care. 42 U.S.C. §§ 670-76. In a detailed opinion, the BAP construed these payments as a type of benefit received under the Social Security Act. A dissent from the opinion would have agreed with the bankruptcy judge and included the payments as part of the Debtor's disposable income, explaining in part: "As highlighted by the majority’s recitation of the myriad of benefit programs “provided by” the Social Security Act (SSA) - a “sprawling statute . . . providing for many benefit programs, some of which are familiar and others obscure” - this approach would exclude from the monies which must be committed to pay chapter 13 creditors any funds remotely connected to the SSA and the federal government - so remotely connected that it would exclude from disposable income payments to a debtor even though not one dollar came from the federal government and most people would have no idea the SSA had any connection to the payments received."
- FARIS, DUNN, and JURY, Bankruptcy Judges
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