Adinolfi v. Meyer (In re Adinolfi)

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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