If the debtor’s income changes within the first three years (36 months) of the repayment plan, it may not be necessary to make changes to the payment amounts. However, if the debtor’s income increases by a significant amount, the trustee may ask that payments be adjusted accordingly. The trustee generally is not responsible for closely monitoring the debtor’s income. After three years of a confirmed plan, if the plan even extends that long, there is no specific requirement in the Bankruptcy Code that disposable income be contributed to the plan, so an increase in income at that point in time would probably make little difference.
The trustee will consider not only the salary increase, but also whether there has been a corresponding increase in disposable income, on which the payments are based. Disposable income is the amount of the debtor’s salary that is left after deducting all reasonable living expenses. If the debtor’s expenses increase along with his or her salary, the debtor’s disposable income may not change and the payment plan will not change either. If the debtor’s disposable income increases by a substantial amount, the trustee may ask for the payments to also increase. If the plan goes beyond 36 months, the increased payments may actually reduce the length of the plan. This would mean that the debtor has paid off his or her debts sooner and would receive a discharge earlier.