Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Exemption Statutes

NOTE: Federal Bankruptcy exemptions ARE available for Pennsylvania filers.  But filers must claim either federal bankruptcy exemptions or state ones – no mixing and matching between the two systems.


No exemption for homestead property in Pennsylvania. However, if filer has property held as a tenancy by the entirety (i.e. a form of joint ownership of property between spouses), the property may be exempt from creditors of the debts of a single spouse.

Personal Property

The following personal property may be exempt, either wholly or up to the dollar amount given:

  • Bibles and schoolbooks
  • Clothing
  • Military uniforms and paraphernalia
  • Sewing machines


  • $100 per month of cash values or proceeds of insurance policy or annuity contract payments where insured is the beneficiary
  • Life insurance annuity policy cash value or proceeds if beneficiary is spouse, child or dependent
  • Life insurance proceeds, if policy includes a clause prohibiting proceeds from being used to pay the creditors of the beneficiary
  • Group life insurance policy or proceeds
  • Accident or disability benefits
  • Fraternal benefits society benefits
  • No-fault car insurance proceeds

Pensions (note: tax-exempt retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, defined benefit plans, and IRAs and Roth IRAs up to $1,095,000 are exempt under federal law)

  • Private retirement benefits, to the extent that they are tax-deferred, if benefits package includes a clause prohibiting proceeds from being used to pay the creditors of the beneficiary; limit of $15,000 per year made at least 1 year before filing (rollovers from other exempt funds or accounts do not count towards the limit)
  • Pensions for the following occupations are exempt under PA law:
    • City employees
    • County employees
    • Municipal employees
    • Police officers
    • Public school employees
    • State employees

Public Benefits

  • Crime victims’ compensation
  • Korean war veterans’ benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Workers’ compensation


  • Wages:
  • Earned but unpaid wages
  • Prison inmate’s wages
  • Wages of victims of abuse
  • Property of business partnership
  • Seamstress’s sewing machine
  • $300 of any property, including cash, real estate, securities, or sale proceeds of any exempt property 

The Pennsylvania Code, including laws related to exemptions, is available here.

Please note: Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest publication, please visit the state legislature sites directly, or speak with a bankruptcy attorney near you.