If I pass the "means test," does that mean that I will automatically qualify to file chapter 7 bankruptcy?

No. Passing the so-called "means test" contained in Sec. 707(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code only means that your case will not be "presumed" to be an "abuse" of the Bankruptcy Code.

There is also Sec. 707(b)(3), which says that if the presumption of abuse does not apply, the court shall consider whether the debtor (that's you) filed the petition in bad faith, or the court can consider if the "totality of circumstances" of your financial situation demonstrates abuse. If the court finds that the case is an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code, the court can dismiss it (after a hearing and an opportunity for you to be heard, and usually the court will give an opportunity to convert the case to chapter 13 first, before dismissing a chapter 7). See www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/201115883.pdf

If you think about it, this only makes sense. The "means test" is an arithmetic formula, that can easily be manipulated. But if a debtor is either in bad faith or is otherwise able to pay their creditors, then the Bankruptcy Court can use Sec. 707(b)(3) to prevent them from getting a discharge in chapter 7. They can still usually file chapter 13, and pay part of all of their debts through a plan with the unpaid balances being discharged, while being protected from their creditors' collection actions.

J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization