Eligibility Guidelines

MDRF offers free legal advice on debt relief options to any Massachusetts resident.

When direct assistance is in the person’s best interest, we offer 100% free representation to individuals at or below 150% of the Poverty Line, or for Veterans & Servicemembers, at or below 200% of the Poverty Line.

These guidelines may be adjusted on a case-by-case basis based on the individual’s specific need or hardship.

To be eligible for representation, the individual:

  1. Cannot own or have an interest in any real estate of any kind;
  2. Must not have realized a profit on the sale of any real estate in the past year;
  3. Cannot have more than $2,000 in cash or cash equivalents, in any type of account, bank or institution, including retirement accounts. (Excludes social security benefits);
  4. Total value of all other assets, (excluding cash or cash equivalents) cannot exceed $10,000;
  5. Household income should not exceed the below poverty guidelines, which are used by the Court to determine filing fee waiver applications. See below.

NB: Use net income after taxes and payroll deductions for estimated monthly income.

Monthly Poverty Guidelines – Used for Court fee waiver eligibility (150% of HHS Poverty Guidelines 2024)

Persons in Household Monthly Income Annual Income
1 $1,882.50, $22,590
2 $2,555.00 $30,660
3 $3,227.50 $38,730
4 $3,900.00 $46,800
5 $4,572.50 $54,870
6 $5,245.00 $62,940
7 $5,917.50 $71,010
8 $6,590.00 $79,080
For each additional person add $672.50

Income Levels for Veterans & Servicemembers 

Beginning October of 2015, MDRF’s eligibility guidelines have been expanded so that the income limits for veterans, national guardsmen and members of the military is limited by 200% of the HHS Poverty Guidelines. This increase is over the 150% limit relied on by the Bankruptcy Court in granting fee waivers, so clients accepted with income over 150% will be responsible for the $338 court filing fee and the cost of the two required bankruptcy courses, which generally cost between $15-50 per course. However, qualifying clients will not be charged a legal fee. 

(200% of HHS Poverty Guidelines 2024)

Persons in Household Monthly Income Annual Income
1 $2,510.00 $30,120
2 $3,406.67 $40,880
3 $4,303.33 $51,640
4 $5,200.00 $62,400
5 $6,096.67 $73,160
6 $6,993.33 $83,920
7 $7,890.00 $94,680
8 $8,786.67 $105,440

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