July 23, 2018

Social Security Benefit Checks are Exempt from Garnishment, but….

My husband has been given benefits but we are being advise a judgement will be placed for medical procedures that insurance should have covered but didn’t. The facilty was subcontracted out by the doctor and was never given our insurance information to file on. Upon calling that insurance company, they have said that the claims is now too old for them to pay on. Can the attorney take my husbands social security benefits for the judgement.

Jonathan Ginsberg responds:  Social Security benefits cannot be garnished by this type of civil judgment creditor.  However, if you are using direct deposit and the Social Security funds are going into an account where you keep other money, your bank may inadvertantly honor a fi fa on the judgment.

I would consider sending a letter to the lawyer who is representing the judgment creditor to advise him that your husband’s sole source of income is Social Security and therefore exempt from garnishment.
Be aware, however, that other assets – his house, other bank accounts, other assets – can still be at risk.

Another point to consider – does this creditor have a legal right to sue?   Claims for breach of contract are subject to statutes of limitations.  If this debt is ten years old, for example, it may be “stale” and no longer actionable.  Recently, I have heard about a number of lawsuits filed on stale debt – if the defendant does not raise this issue, you could be stuck with judgments even when the underlying claim is bogus.  There is a remedy to challenge this type of judgment called a “collateral attack on the judgment” but collateral attacks are expensive and time consuming.

If you receive a lawsuit on a debt that seems unusually old, it would probably be worth the time to run the case by a lawyer.  My colleague Bill McLeod of Boston, regularly writes about Fair Debt Collection Practice horror stories.  If you are under any illusion that collection agencies are trustworthy entities, some of the examples Bill cites of egregious actions by bill collectors will open your eyes.

If you have other assets at risk, and the judgment is large enough, a bankruptcy might be something to consider.  As a rule, you are better off filing bankruptcy before a judgment is issued, but there is a procedure in bankruptcy practice called “avoiding the lien” where a judgment lien can be stripped and made into an unsecured debt.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Ginsberg represents honest, hardworking men and women in the Atlanta area who need personal bankruptcy protection. In practice for over 25 years, Jonathan teaches bankruptcy law and practice at legal continuing education seminars and he is a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network. Jonathan lives with his wife and children in Atlanta.


  1. Machell Harkins says:

    My daughter was married for less than a year in 2002. In the divorce decree her ex husband recieved the car. They bought the used car for around $6,000.00. It stated she was free and clear of the car. He let the car get repossessed. He filed bankruptcy to get out of paying. They have recently started garnishing my daughters paycheck for $13,000 for the car. She is a single Mother raising a 4 year old. Does she really have to pay double for a car she doesn’t own.

  2. If your daughter was a co-debtor or guarantor on the vehicle purchase installment note and her ex filed bankruptcy to discharge his responsibility, then, yes, your daughter will be stuck with the debt.

    If, however, the divorce agreement required him to pay the debt, his obligation under the divorce decree might not be dischargeable. This is probably one of those situations where your daughter ought to consult with a lawyer in your area to review all of her options.

  3. Grant Mugge says:

    Due to hear problems I am now 100% disable for life but my ex has sued to have social security automatically send a large part of my social security to her. How can this be?

  4. i have been harass, threathen, verbally abuse by bill collector, true, i got behind in a bill, and really they refuse to set up any thype of payment plan because i am too far behind, and they want all the money, it has increase due to finance charge they keep adding, i am on ss diability, and they threaten to get by money out of the money what do i do.

  5. My mother is on Social Security and also get a L&I Pension from my deceased fathers L&I Pension he was receiving when he was alive… We know they can’t get her Social Security.

    Now my mother is in debt and the family is afraid her checking account might be seize or garnished before we get a chance to make arrangements for payment for her. She has demensia so now she has a POA. Can her creditor garnish her Pension deposit from Labor and Industries.
    Thanks all your help in this matter will be highly appreciated.

  6. I have been contacted by Love, Beal and Nixon, P.C. regarding an old debt. I have been told they are ruthless and will do what they have to do to get you to pay the debt. Here is my question: I receive Social Security Disability, it is mailed directly to me. I also recieve a small retirement pension from the state of Oklahoma. As far as I’ve heard, neither one of these can be garnished. I feel safe on the Social Security since it is mailed to me, but by law my state retirement has to be direct deposited. I’ve heard that once the money gets into your account it becomes an asset and they can freeze your account. Is this true? Can they freeze my state retirement after it’s deposited? Do they freeze it every month? Please help me I don’t know what to do and can’t afford an attorney. Thank you.

  7. I have a son who is SSI and there is so much back child suport taken out of his check he can’t even rent a room. He only gets $350 a month to live. Is this legal? He needs help and his worker said there is no help for him and his situation.

  8. Connie, there are a few exceptions to the rule that Social Security money is exempt from garnishment. Tax debt can be collected from Social Security as can child support. If your son has past due child support, his SSI check will not be fully protected.

    Assuming that his income is greatly reduced from when the original order was signed, he may want to go back to the state court to ask for a modification for future payments.

  9. I receive Social Security and a small pension of $300.00. I have a credit card that I can no longer pay. I have never been late paying, over the limit, but for some reason the interest rate has been over time increased to 25% and at my age (73) I will never be able to pay it off. Due to rent increase, utilities increased, food cost increased, gas increased, I just can’t make the full payment. I have called the card company and get no help, in fact just rudeness. Should I just pay what I can and of course they will charge for that or not pay it at all?. I feel terrible that this has happened, but I have not other income or assets. I live in Senior Housing (HUD) and all my income is going to necessary expenses (rent, utilities, insurance, medicare, Medicare supplement, Part D prescription. Can they garnish my Social Security and small pension which are direct deposited?
    supplemental insurance, Part D perscription

  10. Someone please help. My brother is on SSDI, he has a brain injury, he is divorced and his daughter gets a check from SSDI BUT they are also taking money out of his check. He now receives only $300.00 a month to live AND his ex is trying to take that also! She has moved to another state and the courts are telling him he has to get a lawyer in HER state now. He does not have money for food let alone a lawyer. Is there something we can do to change this, I thought SSDI was not allowed to be garnished. Has anyone had this problem? Can anyone offer any advice, and can we get an attorney to do something at no or low cost? We are in Florida. Thanks.

  11. Karen, I believe that Social Security disability payments can be attached for child support. However, this is a situation that will require the help of a lawyer. I would start with a lawyer in the state where the child support order was issued – and you may need to get one in the state where the ex has moved.

  12. I receive workers compensation but after the insurance has paid there half now Subsequent Injury Fund has kicked in but now the Maryland Central Collections Unit is taking 15% of my benefits for laps in car insurance from 1995. I thought workers compensation was exempt from such collections. This is crazy the always hit ya when one is down. I can not get anyone to answer my questions in Maryland.

  13. Hello, I’m hoping someone can help me, help my mom. My stepdad just passed away from a recurring cancer and my 70 yr old mom can’t afford the Trailer home they were buying and will have to move.

    Also my stepdad took care of all the bills and had signed a loan with a bank for a monthly payment, nothing on the loan, no collateral, shes not going to be able to afford either, and didn’t sign with him or it anyway, wasn’t aware of it till he passed away.

    We live in GA and she will be getting Social Security and Military survivors benefit. He was retired Army. Does anyone know or can someone direct us to the finding the info, if the bank or mortgage company can take her benefits or hold her accountable?

    He didn’t have a will of any kind.

    Thank you for your help.




  15. Connie, SSI cannot be garnished for any reason, even child support. SSI is not the same as SSDI and I believe the US Supreme Court has ruled that SSI is not garnishable for any reason. This is because SSI is not social security and intended to provide the receipt with enough money to meet his basic needs. Here is a link to an Illinois case which explains why:


    Anthony, Texas

  16. Can Social Security Disability or SSI be garnished by credit card collectors? Are there any Laws that would be helpful to me when I go into court?

  17. My Mom has 5,000 Dollars in credit card debt. She is currently being taken to court by a collection agency in Illinois (the credit card was held in Wisconsin) Her only means of income is ssdi benefits she also has a payee “THATS ME ” HER COURT DATE IS TOMMAROW WHAT SHOULD I DO?

  18. Ryan, I can’t offer legal advice to you via a blog – you and your mom ought to speak with a lawyer in the jurisdiction where she is being sued. Be aware that you mom’s status as a Social Security recipient can protect her from enforcement of a judgment. The credit card company can still obtain a judgment. As noted, you should verify that the bank account where her money goes is not co-mingled with other funds (yours or hers). I would also notify opposing counsel that if he attempts to seize Social Security derived money he could be liable for damages. Again, this is a situation where it would make sense to consult with a lawyer for legal advice specific to your situation.

  19. Call the department of revenue who controls the child support in your state, ask for a modification of child support . They will say they can’t do that but thats not true i was lied to and i went to the department of revenue website and downloaded the forms and filled them out right away and fax them to them. I’m on SSDI and there are guidlines for the disabled who receive little money. Don’t give up i almost did i even hired a attorney to help me on this matter and nothing was done except my money was taken and i was robbed . I would not go down that road you will be waisting your time. Do not let them tell you nothing can be done thats not true ! You can do alot of reaserch on the internet about this matter i did this all on my own and my child support has been modified by the guidelines of the law. Frank !!!

  20. tam naylor says:

    I am disable due to chronic scoliois and m.s. I have applied for s.s. benefits and was turned down because they said my last place of employment did not withhold s.s. taxes, so does this mean I am just out of luck as far as getting any help from anywhere?

  21. Linda Osborne says:

    Not a comment, but a question.
    If a contractual agreement incorporated into a divorce decree states that a spouse will receive l/2 of social security from the other spouse, can social security benefits be garnished for this reason, by court order?

  22. My SSDI is $770. Can Sallie Mae Parent Plus Federal Student Loan garnish my SSDI? My loan is not in default yet, but I am now not going to be able to pay it since my husband is waiting on disability, his job gone.

    I read on the internet that Social Security allows 15% garnishment to be taken out for Federal Student loans. ?

    I also read that one should have the checks sent to a secure mailbox, as the Federal Student Loans seize the money in your bank account, not from Social Security directly. I have no idea if that is true. I would love to find out.

  23. Same person here.

    To add:

    Also, we will be going through Chapter 7 when the medical bills come in.

    If you have lost your house, all retirement money (six figures) have no money but tiny SSDI, husband has turned to applying for disability after 22 years with the same printing shop, The State of Washington employer – so great loss of income…

    …would there be a chance at all that one could put the Parent Plus loan into the Bankruptcy under the undue distress clause?

    Or is that clause for the strictly deathbed?

    I have also considered the Total and Permanent Disability for me. At 52, having Bipolar 1, with a history in two hospitals involuntarily, I am not sure I can work any job but half time. I have a BA in Education.

    Thanks if you can shed some light on these three issues: Federal Student Loan method of garnishment of SSDI; undue distress clause in Chapter Seven; and Total and Permanent Disability.

  24. Total and Permanent Disability is a clause in The Parent Plus Loan.

    THanks. I’ll shut up now.

  25. This is in response to Linda. Interesting question. I would argue that the transfer of the benefit should not change the character of the money but I have never seen this question litigated.

  26. There are numerous laws that prevent certain type of collection activities against S.S. benifits. I am an attorney and wouldbe happy to see if I can give you the info needed to helop you in this matter please feel free to write back with specifics

  27. leonard cooper says:


  28. I was in a car accident that was my fault (ticketed)and I had no insurance on the car at the time. The other driver’s insurance company paid out almost six thousand and now wants me to pay them back. My only source of income is SSDI. Can they garnish that income or ???

  29. You are WRONG SSI CAN NOT! Be garnished! NOR can it be counted as income for child support! And the court CAN NOT hold you in contempt for not paying, The court may enter an order of support but can NOT enforce it. I STRONGLY suggest getting a lawyer, google child support and SSI, You WILL see that i am correct. Social security CAN be garnished NOT SSI people confuse the two, If your sons only source of income is SSI he can not be garnished form that if the court is doin so the court CAN be sued.

  30. I receive SSDI and my spouse is my Representative Payee. I also receive 100% VA Compensation. I ended up with a lot of unsecure debt waiting for approval of VA and SSDI awards along with my spouse’s illness. I am currently with a Debt Resolution Company and have settle one debt at this time.

    My question is can creditors garnish or freeze my bank accounts? One account is Social Security funds only with my wife listed as my payee. When the check comes direct deposit it comes in her name. I have a separate account just in my name only for my VA Compensation. No other funds are placed in this account. Can someone give me some guidance as what I should do. Should I drop my name off both accounts and have my spouse as the account owner? Or should I request that each agency send me paper checks?


  31. HI, I went through a check cashing company and got a advance and my source of income is only my SSDI. I had to close my account due to fraud and that meant that the loan wasn’t paid. Well because the fraud process took up to 3 wks and my account was a huge mess. I was served by the check cashing place because they wouldn’t accept a repayment plan that I could afford. Can they garnish my SSDI now and what about my kids SSDI? My kids SSDI goes into a bank account with my name on it but I receive a check for my SSDI. Thanks in advance.

  32. Fawaz Al-Mohamad says:

    I am 55 years old on social security disability, the only income I have, just got out of divorce. The court awarded my ex wife $50,000 compensation for a house overseas, the house is a family house, I couldn’t convince the court that I really don’t have that house and I can’t do anything about this house. The court imposed a lein of $50,000 on that house.The court in my country doesn’t honor any court order from the USA. Can my ex wife garnish my SSDI for payment on this house?

  33. I am 60 years old on Social Security disability and I am unemployed. I have had two student loans, it seems like forever. I have made payments in the past to the best that I am able. I am finding it difficulty to continue making payments due to my financial situation.
    I am being told that if I can not make payments that the creditors are going to garnish my disability check. Can they legally do this. It’s not that i don’t want to pay it is that I am unable.

  34. my wife and I are getting behind on medical bills, I am on unemployment and she is getting ssdi. We filed bankruptcy about 8 months ago, these are new bills (about 10,000 worth) they are mainly from an auto accident that my wife was in about 3 yrs ago that our auto insurance refuses to pay ANY of it. We currently have a law suit pending against Our auto insurance as well as the lady who caused the accident.

    She has her ssdi going into an account by itself. I have my unemployment going into another account (at a totally different bank). My concern is that they will find a way to garnish us leaving us without the ability to keep a roof over our heads as we are barely able to do now. Between her ssdi and my unemployment (as well as child support I collect from an ex-wife) we have 750 in ssdi, 230 in child support and 1664 in unemployment a month. (total of about 2640) Our house payment is 860 a month, and utilities are another 300. so it consumes HALF of our income just there. Then you add in our car payment (we have to keep a reliable car due to MANY MANY dr appointments), of 340 a month, another 150 in car insurance, that now leaves us with 800 for food for 3 people, gas to get around, phone bill, maintenance on a 4 yr old car.. we have little to NOTHING left at the end of the month. I offered to pay them 20 a month, but they told me they could only do that for 2 months then we would have to pay at least 100 to 200 a month at a minimum!

    What can they legally garnish if anything? Is it just 25% of my disposable income (meaning either work wages or my unemployment?) – I assume unemployment is exempt from what I have read thus far. Sooner or later I will either return to work or apply for ssdi myself due to liver disease.

    I need to know how to protect my family from ending up on the streets.

    One other issue is that I have about 10 medical bills that are in collections with different creditors. There is NO way I can please them all – especially at one time. I have actually quit going to the dr because of this issue, and my health is actually getting worse because of that.

    Another question is we did NOT reaffirm on the house when we did the bankruptcy, we only put 500 down on it 2 yrs ago when we bought it. It is worth about what we owe on it. If I should die what will happen with the house. Would they try to seize it even if there is little to no equity at all in it? (to me this would make no sense but then I see stupid things happen all the time). Just an FYI, Most of the debt is in my wifes name, the house is ONLY in mine.

  35. @jose beiro: FIle for a hardship deferment first of all. Second if you are on DISABILITY – and your disability was something that happened AFTER you went to school and took out these loans they have a program to CANCEL the loans completely out (if they are federal student loans which I assume they are) simply call them and ask for the disability forms, your doctor will have to fill them out state your disability and put down a date to when you became disabled, so that you will never have to repay them. My wife almost did that, however by doing that you will no longer EVER be eligible for student loans again. I assume at your age that is not even going to be an issue though.

    If they are NOT federal student loans, ie.. regular loans to go to school. Then they are most likely dischargeable in bankruptcy AND they will NOT be able to garnish your SSDI to begin with. Since ONLY federal student loans have the ability to do this, not simple bank loans.

  36. @Fawaz Al-Mohamad: Have your check mailed to you, DO not have them direct deposited UNLESS they are the ONLY thing going into that bank account. My suggestion close ANY account you currently have, open a new account with the MINIMUM allowed ($5 IF ALL POSSIBLE) let them know you are only using it for direct deposit of your ssdi. Then do NOT deposit any money into that account EVER. Get some sort of safe in the house if you have to and keep the money on hand and out of hers.

    Then I would get some sort of paperwork from the other country where the house is at, some sort of tax statement showing WHO all has ownership in the house, what its taxable value is, what if anything is owed on the house..ect.. and file an appeal as to that 50,000 judgment. You should be able to file for a hearing without an attorney if you really can not afford one. BUT make sure you have enough paperwork to back you up. She is only entitled to a portion of what your ownership stake is in that house. however it can NOT exceed 100% of what stake you have in the house, but could be up TO 100%, depending on the circumstances as to WHY she was awarded it.

    This sort of thing is NOT child support, federal student loans, or taxes, so therefor is NOT allowed to be garnished from SSDI before or after it goes into your bank account. BUT if other funds are in there it is possible to take the entire amount. Only protection is the make it obvious that it is SSDI and ONLY SSDI is to isolate those funds from anything else.

  37. @Dana: They can NOT garnish your SSDI, but depending on your state laws could go after you in other ways for writing a bad check. These cash advance places differ from state to state and consumers have different protections. It is possible they could (if the account is used for anything in ADDITION to your sons SSDI) garnish that bank account. If you have deposited ANY funds into that account in the last 45 to 60 days, start a new account. Then have it deposited into the new account and DO NOT use that account other than to have the SSDI deposited and that is it!

    Attempt to call and make payment arrangements with them. I would do it by certified mail (keeping a copy for yourself). Tell them in the letter that they can take the arrangements in payments or you will set aside x number of dollars per month and when the full amount is saved you will then pay them. If they refuse and you have to start to save up the funds, then at least when or if they file a court action (which they most likely will) you can explain your situation better to the judge and ask for relief from the judgment in the form of payment arrangement (that you had already tried to make with them before the filing). Courts will often agree to a payment plan and as long as one is in place and followed NO other collection on that account is allowed.

  38. @Patrick: Having them direct depost is the best idea – it leaves a paper trail PROVING it is SSDI which is NOT garnishable either before or after it is paid. However state laws differ as to what it becomes after x number of months if it sits in there. So if you have less than 2x your monthly SSDI check in there at any given time it should be safe.

    VA and SSDI are BOTH exempt from garnishment. Also you may want to think about filing for bankruptcy if the debt can not be paid off in less than 3 to 5 yrs on your current income. You are going to only dig your self a long rut that will continue if the old bills are going to keep pulling you down. Many states let you file alone, so that your spouse will not have to file with you. Check with your state laws to see if your state is one of them. Michigan I know will let people file without their spouse, while Ohio will not.

  39. @Annette: Yes, SSDI can be garnished if you are in default on a Sallie Mae Federal loan. I received a letter a couple of days ago from the Department of the Treasury informing me that 15% of my SSDI check will be garnished to pay my Sallie Mae loan that is in default.

  40. Barbara M. says:

    my mother has recently been a car accident that was her fault…she had passengers in her car and one of them broke his wrist…my mother has car insurance and owns no property or vehicle (now)…can her social security check be garnished to pay for any suits which are too much money for her present car insurance??

  41. I have a friend who was still working at 68 years old, and has payments to the state for behind child support.

    His SS payment was about $650, but the Friend of the Court is taking about $325 a month out. (This kid is now in his 30’s and was not the guys kid in the first place but since they were married at the time of the kids birth his name went on the birth certificate.)

    Anyhow, since then he had a severe case of pneumonia and was hospitalized for 3 months, and is no longer in any condition to work.

    Who do I talk to to help this guy out?



  44. I lived in my cousins apartment in 2006-2007. We were both on the lease. Well..I was not working so he was paying (not paying rent) plus he made a mess of the house. We are now being sued for $3000 for backrent..plus $10,000 for damages. There was no damage from what I saw. She went after us in 2008 but I did not know about it, and she went after just rent..NOT damage then. Why now is she going after damage? I figured if she was so Upset about the damage she should have gone after us for it back in 2007. Her case was also dismissed because she was trying to evict us AND collect rent..Judge said that she couldnt do that.

  45. @Mae: are state and business pensions liable for garnishments?

  46. My Mom barely makes ends meet on her Social Security. When my Step-Dad was still alive they bought a house in Oregon through USDA. The payments were accounted to both of their SS checks, but when he passed away in 2008, they would not adjust it to just her income. She struggled until Dec. 09, when put into the hospital and then rehab to learn to walk again.
    Someone advised her to walk away from the house and now they are going to garnish her SS check. A man in July applied for short sale of the house, but USDA is dragging their feet on it. The house is supposed to be foreclosed on in Oct.
    The house has been for sale most of the time they had owned it. They soon found out that they could not afford it on the incomes and have money to live on too!
    Why would USDA put elderly couple into a loan that used all of their income?
    Thank you.

  47. helen davis says:

    @Fawaz Al-Mohamad: just let both accounts come in the mail or get direct deposit with the goverment prepaid mastercard debit thats what i am doing

  48. Don Ickes says:

    The U.S. Treasure has been garnishing my Social Security Checks since August of 2007.They are taking $203.25 out of my SOC amount of $1355.00. They refuse to explain how much of this alledge debt is or what is for. My Social Security payment is my only source of income. Can you help?

  49. elizabeth turner says:

    can a bank take me to civil court to have my disibility check garnished for a neg balance?when I had the account I was working and now I am disable and draw a disibility check which barely covers my bills. They charged it off and sent it to a collection firm(not a part of the bank) and now I received a hand delivered letter or supeona from the court saying that I have thirty days to reply. I cannot pay this and I need to know if a judge will garnish my check. also, do I have time to file a bankruptsy? thanks, Liz

  50. I have read conflicting statements as to whether or not SSI benefits can be garnished for taxes that are over 10 years old – some say that SSI benefits (for bipolar disorder) cannot be garnished by ANYONE and others say the IRS can garnish anything – I do not have enough work credits to collect disability but I have a pending SSI case and am awaiting a hearing — I also have taxes owed from before 2000 and would like to know if I can expect garnishment or not- I have seen that there appears to be a 10 year statute of limitations on collecting taxes owed to the IRS – What can I reasonably expect?

  51. @esther:

    Esther, please don’t shout–i.e., please don’t post in all caps, it is considered a SCREAM, and rude.

  52. sandy keffer says:

    My ex and i own a house in Fl and I live in Mn and I can’t file for bankruptcy because I own half of a house in Fl. I work parttime and get ss. They can’t granished my check cause its so little. But was wondering how much money I can keep in the bank before they can take some of it…

  53. Ok I an a senior retierd- Vietnam vet. I have a state tax due All the income i have is ss and my va disability check. for agent orange non hogdkins lymphoma. can the state garnish my income or have the feds do it for them i am in il.

  54. I have a civil asset forfeiture in progress. Can they take my social security disability check which is mailed to me monthly? Thanks

  55. No.

  56. Sandy, that will depend on where you file and which exemption laws apply. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer ought to be able to answer your questions about this issue.

  57. anthony senda says:

    I became homeless in 2oo1 and was living in my car. During that time I kept getting pulled over by the police for expired registration, no insurance. I went to court and agreed to make payments but once I got a place to live ( it took 5 years ) I became ill and was bedridden for 3 years and was too ill to do anything, I almost died from the illness. I had surgery last year and am better but mobility issues keep me from going out much. I got a notice from the California Franchise Tax Board about my court fines and today found out that they attached my checking account and took ALL of the money I had in it. I closed the account but I am on SSI and I have another checking account where I just arranged to have my direct deposit to go into next month. I had thought that they cannot do this under Federal law.

    HELP !

  58. Quentin Rogers says:

    I am a ower of a francise. starting today, my son is getting ssi is anything going to happen to his check please let me know hes 9 yrs old can u let me know asap so i would know my next step. can they take his ssi away

  59. Good morning!
    Sorry to bother you, I was hoping to ask you a quick question when you have time. I was just approved for social security disability and received three years of back pay directly into my account. I am in the middle of bankruptcy which hasn’t been “filed” yet so I contacted my lawyer immediately. I was then told that only $7500 is exempt and the rest will go to the trustee (court then creditors). Do you know if this correct? (I am not holding you to it I am just really confused, when I started asking questions he said I needed to make an appt and the soonest he could fit me in wasn’t for a week. I am just hanging until then without answers.). If you had an idea I would greatly appreciate any input!
    Thank you for whatever you are able to provide! Chel E. From Oregon

  60. stella maldonado says:

    i have military retiremant pension direct deposited in san antonio tex. I live & work @ robins afb [civ contractor] in Georgia I file a 1099r & pay fed taxes, but do I have to pay Ga state taxes on the same money?

  61. Paula Bingston says:

    I just recevied a judgement against me in Small Claims Court, from a Home Owners Association of $5000 and can not pay it. My husband passed away 3 years ago and I receive a Military Pension of $1200 a month plus,2 social security checks. One is $516, the other is $664. One is for Social Security Disability for me, the other is for Social Security from my Husband, when he passed away. My question is can they take any of this money from me. It is all direct deposited. I live in Sacramento Ca., and I need every bit to live on. Thank you for and answering this question. I am a nervous wreck about it.

  62. My wife and i are both on ss she is paying a creadt card bill for the last 4 yrs it will take 4 more yrs to pay it we can not aford it what can we do?

  63. Chel, I am not familiar with Oregon’s bankruptcy exemptions. In Georgia, where I practice, there is an unlimited exemption for disability payments reasonably necessary for the support and maintenance of a debtor or debtor’s dependents. You need to see if there is something similar in Oregon. The question to ask is about the exemptions available to you.

  64. i had a student loan from the college foundation in 1990 in nc.i defaulted on the loan then my husband and i filed bankruptcy.we included the loan and when things were filed a notice was sent to the foundation,during this time the state authority of nc took the l loan over.when the bankruptcy was over the loan had been fixed and liquidated by a federal judge.i didn’t hear from the state for two year’s they called i told them what happened and sent them a copy of the bankruptcy.in 2008 was served with papers to go to court but i agreed to make payments.things got bad and i was not able to made payments,but i did what i could,i only borrowed 2749 dollars and i’ve paid back over 8000 dollars all paid on interest none on the principal now my husband died this year and all i live on is my ss,now they’re getting 15 per cent of that. how much interest do i have to pay’had i known i still owed this after court i would have paid them

  65. Hello,

    Not sure if you could help but I am receving Social Security Survivor Benefits on behalf of my daughter. I filed for Chapter 13 and my lawyer and trustee whom I am making payments to, are calculating my daughter’s benefits as disposable income to pay down my debts. Per Social Security, I am to only use these funds to provide for her well-being and if there is money left over, I am to deposit it into a savings for her future needs. Section 207 of the Social Security act states: “The right of any person to any future payment under this title shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law”. Can you help me find out if it is legal for the courts to be using my daughter’s benefits for the purpose of paying down MY personl debt.?

    Thank you,

  66. Can u please help me I have a tentant that is over 2,000 dollars behind in her rent. Can I garbish her child’s ssi?? This is her only means of income.

  67. Marianne Smith says:

    I currently recieve social security (SSDI) in the current amount of 518.00. In the year of 2009, I was employed for about a year. During this time the taxes being taken out of my paycheck were being paid into my social security. As a result, begininng January 2011 – current I was to be recieving 925 a month. Social Security failed to give me the correct amount, so as a result I am recieveing a a under-payment check in the amount of 4,070 for the months that I was under paid. I am also recieving rental assistance from Section 8 housing, can Section 8 come after me for back rent if Social Security made the error in my benefit amount?

  68. Nanette Smith says:

    My husband and I; received benefits checks of SSI (2 Checks); and he gets one (SSDI) Check. We do not receive much, on any/either check. Is is LEGAL: for King Soopers or Safeway, to take out, a FEE; for CASHING them?? I wouldn’t think so. Especially, when, we need all of that money, to pay bills, when; neither one of us, is working. We have, had to PAWN, alot of our stuff, just to get by; each month, since; they started doing that. They have, only started doing that, within the last (2) two or (3) three months.

  69. Marianne, I have no knowledge about Section 8 law – that is a landlord tenant issue.

  70. Nanette: I do not know if there are any rules regarding fees that check cashers can charge to cash a Social Security check. I know that the check cashing business is risky and I suspect that check cashers would refuse to accept business where there was no profit for their risk. I believe that Social Security offers payments through debit cards – that may be a better and safer way than paper checks and check cashers.

  71. shane klumb says:

    My Mother recieves a SSI,she divorced my step father 7 years ago. he was ordered to pay alimony,he is now 40,000 in the rears. my mother has only been on disability for 2 of the seven years of the divorce. She wants to garnish his wages ,(He recieves SSDIas well). Can She do this without loseing her income,and medical. She has cancer,and loseing her benifts would not be good.In divorce decree,He was ordered to pay half the house, and land payments,and he does not do that either. What should she do?

  72. hi, i am receiving SSDI. i have a number of credit card companies continuing to ask for money and medical bills. i dont owe state/federal taxes, alimony, or student loans. i am on dialysis and not able to work. i keep getting summons to appear in court or not, it said it was my option to go or not. i did not. i got a summons about a month ago and this is the first once to mention garnishing wages. can they take my money, which is barely enough to pay rent, food, insurance, etc. i am due in court in march. i had let this creditor know my situation. they said they could care less and i owe the money, about 40k. i understand i used the money but have no way of paying anything back. i live in Virginia. i am thinking of going to court so i can show them letter and proof of being on dialysis, and hoping the judge will help me. not sure what to expect, plus court fees would b $80. i am just so scared and worried. any advice or suggestions of what to do? thank you very much, i appreciate the help.

  73. I have been denied the first time for Disability benefits. I know i have a strong case due to my various medical conditions plus the DDS sent me to two CE’s before the denial came. My question is this: I have outstanding student loans. Can they garnish the WHOLE of my back pay should I win my appeal? or just a certain percentage of it? I tried to go through Allsup to help with my appeal but they told me I dont qualify for their services because my back pay could be seized. I’m worried no other attorney will for this reason.

  74. If you closed an account, and reopen another , they will hit up the new one with all the collection fees and you will still be responsible for the original loan. They hit me hard and my account we under over 200.00 dollars.

  75. Tim Caswell says:

    I am going thru a Divorce in the state of Arkansas, I am on SSD and she to is on SSD, after we sell the house and the land that we have, we will be in the hole about $15,000. She is wanting 200.00 a month for alimony from me can they make me pay that.

  76. Tim, the Arkansas judge will make the decision about whether your wife is entitled to alimony, and, if so, in what amount. If alimony is awarded, she could go after your SSDI check (but not your SSI check).

  77. I only receive SSI benefits due to that am I a legal resident..The Dept of Treasury has sent me a letter that they are going to garnish my SSI…can they do this?.
    Being a single parent its hard enough on the income I get… If they can I would like to know…or is it SSDI that they can garnish and not SSI

  78. I am currently unemployed and my only income is my Social Security. My check is not electronically deposited but come to my residence via the mail. A judgement has just been signed against me. Can this judgement allow the creditor to garnish or freeze my monies coming from Social Security?

  79. I have had a judgement against me and a lien has been placed on my home in ri.
    they could not garnish wages becaused i am on social security so it was passed on. I have made three offiers for a settlement amount and the creditor will not accept. The original amount was for 1999.00 in 1999. Now they want 3300.00 which I can not do. They have told me to set up a payment plan or the will again have to take me back into court so I should get a lawyer which again I really can’t afford. Can they do this, that is take me back to court for more monies?

  80. Leny Mendoza says:

    EDD Disability Office is trying to collect back disability payments from me. Will they be able to garnish my social security benefits which starts on May 16, 2012. If they issue a judgment, will they be able to get the money from my bank account after the SS money is directly deposited to it every month ? Thanks.

  81. Leny, I don’t know much about EDD Disability – you may want to discuss this issue with a California bankruptcy or consumer protection lawyer.

  82. Virginia, if you are still judgment proof, it would seem to me that the threat is idle. Also, on what basis would they take you back to court? Doesn’t smell right to me.

  83. Anthony, a civil judgment creditor cannot garnish your Social Security money. You need to make sure that your bank understands that the only money going into that account is Social Security money. You would be much safer with electronic deposit of your Social Security funds.

  84. keith doke says:

    I recieve social scurity disibilty each month it goe,s electronicly to the bank .I moved to IA from GA i owe GA STATE TAX and FEDRAL TAX. Can the garnish my social security disbiity from my bank.

  85. Yes.

  86. Peter, I have not researched this issue in depth. I believe that the IRS can withhold 15% of your monthly benefit so long as your total monthly benefit does not drop below $750. I do not know whether the IRS treats the lump sum as a collection of months, each limited to at 15% deduction or if they treat it differently than individual monthly benefit payments.

  87. Randy, I would contact the creditors one by one and advise them that your sole source of income is Social Security money and that they are not allowed to seize it. If you have direct deposit from Social Security, your bank should know not to honor any garnishment. If you receive your money via paper checks, you should change to electronic deposit to protect your money.

  88. Richard Midkiff says:

    My son receives a SSI check for 435 dollars a month. (NOT SSD) he is getting divorced from his ex wife because she got pregnant with another man and is living with that man with thier baby. My son has 2 kids with her, can they garnish an SSI check for child support???thanks

  89. My disability advocate is wanting to charge me for both my SSDI and my SSI. Eventhough i only get the SSDI, because that more, and i did not get the SSI checks. Can they do that

  90. Darlene, I think that your daughter’s benefits would count as household income on Schedules I & J (although Social Security benefits do not count on the means test). To the extent that those benefits are used to pay expenses unique to your daughter that are not otherwise included on your budget, you should be able to create a line item expense to reduce your household income.

  91. Edna Johnson says:

    I started recieving SS disability payments after going to a community college in my city. I went there for one semester and had to quit due to medical. I also attended another college here for less than a semester. My loans went into default and my benefits were garnished.

    What I need to know is if I am entitled to a refund of my money?

  92. Michael Cust says:

    Does the State of Maine exempt my Social Security Benefits from garnishment for spousal support.

  93. I believe that federal law controls this issue, but to be certain you should ask this question to a lawyer licensed in Maine.

  94. If your bank account contained funds from other sources (i.e. a “co-mingled account”) you may have difficulty proving that your Social Security funds were improperly seized. If you can prove that SS funds were seized I think you would have an argument to demand a refund.

  95. albert briggs says:

    i am 75 yrs i had owed back pay from social security now they stopped my checks completly how am i supposed to live thank you

  96. Albert, you may want to apply for a waiverof overpayment with Social Security.  If you can show that the termination of your Social Security will result in undue hardship SSA might restore your payments.

  97. SSA will generally approve a fee agreement that calls for payment of 25% of your past due benefit, which includes both SSI and SSDI. Currently SSA will pay up to $6,000, and no more. An advocate can also file a fee petition to request more, but that has to be approved by the judge and served on you for comment. A Social Security representative cannot charge more than what his/her approved fee agreement provides.

  98. SSI cannot be garnished for past due child support. SSDI can, but not SSI because SSI is a welfare program.

  99. Hello, Im hoping somebody can help me… Our bank account was froze by a creditor its a joint account, my husband is on SSD he has been disabled since 2010. I want to know how we can access the money thats in limbo waiting to go into our account which is his disabilty check and my payroll check. The judgement was against my husband we have no money to live off and they said it could take weeks to unfreeze the account. If we file the exempt paper it will take a month and my husband having surgury in 11 days, and will be bedridden for 6 weeks.. I thought our money should have protected from this illegal act hes disabled… PLEASE HELP!

  100. Also we both have separate savings accounts, cant they deposit his SSD check in his savings and the same with me.. I thought by law that they only can freeze other monies in account not his SSD. I have to fill his presciptions for presurgery and cant access any money..

  101. Mary Tesson says:

    I know this question has been asked many times and I read all of them but this confused 71 year old
    senior needs to hear it again or at least let me ask the question. I have only 7 more payments on
    a Chapter 13 arrangement. I have paid 4 1/2 years and continue to pay until it is paid in full.

    My question is a certain computer company where I have been a customer for 12 years or longer
    and have always paid by bill but received a new billing statement – wow no way do I owe this. I requested
    the last four years – I want it in black & white where do they come up with this amount of $1,400.

    They said late charges, etc. no way even it was one or two late charges my balance would be closer to
    $400. I told them I will not pay any more until I see in black & white my statements. I don’t know how
    to pay this if it is true – I am only on Social Security and live in a Hud Government Apartment. Can they take my Social Security money from my account. That is all I have – that’s it just a monthly deposit of my Social Security Check. Thank you I know you have helped thousands of people it is greatly appreciated.

  102. Mary, when a creditor files a claim in bankruptcy it has to show on paper how it calculated the charges. As a first step I would ask your lawyer to download the proof of claim filed by the computer company. You should also enlist the help of your lawyer to request a full payment history. I will tell you that payment history printouts can, in some cases, be difficult to read so you may need to find a bookkeeper to help you translate the codes on the payment history. Bottom line: keep asking questions until you get an answer you understand. Good luck.

  103. Please need help with an issue I am currently on SSD and US Dept of treasury is saying I owe 65K witch i have no idea for what now they are taking out almost 250$ a month and cant afford to live my childrens mother passed and it is just me and them. I can only think that it could be from my first mortgage from the dept of agriculture GMAC but that was shown as closed and foreclosed so I dont get it, it shows up under a personal unsecured federal guaranteed loan? I have never taken a personal loan out any advice please point me in the right direction I have seen that ssd can be garnished its direct deposited but thats the only money in that account also called ss and they said uts that i owe the federal gov? It has to be from the mortgage so I have to pay 70k for a house they already sold ? Thanks for any help

  104. Steve Matte says:

    Jonathan I enjoyed reading your answers but, I see the dates from 2007 to 2012 and a few from 2013 do you have a more current posting of questions and answers. It’s Oct/2014 – thought I’d ask.

    I have a question about my checking account that my 1/2 of SSDI and 10%Va disability goes to. First the 1/2 SSDI is what I get because of arrears in child support and the 10% VA service connected adds up to a little less than $700.00 a month and SS pulls part B Medicare off too. So very close to $670.00 is my monthly funds.

    I owe IRS and State back taxes before 2008 when I was working, some to the late 1990’s.
    Anyway I’m concerned about my checking account being frozen or took. Mostly the only money that goes into it is from above but I have put cash of $100-$200 in it a couple of times and then have bought items to where I have a rebate and then some refunds from returned defective merchandise and the bank itself has returned some overdraft charges.

    I guess my question is HOW long must it be funded only by the SSDI and VA deposits before I can rest and not worry about any judgment against it. It has less than $5.00 left in it by the end of every month.

    I’m 58 in MO. and the house I live in was left to myself and two other siblings so its in our three names, I only live here and have 40 months left of a 48 month redemption tax contract on it. The house is paid off but in need of major repairs. I got my SSDI in January 2014 and the back pay of SSI/SSDI for up to a year before I filed and that’s all gone now. So could you please advise. Thank you.

  105. Steve, the rules have not changed since I originally wrote that article. I don’t feel comfortable offering legal advice via a blog post, especially since I am not familiar with Missouri law. I would contact a Missouri bankruptcy lawyer (my Bankruptcy Law Network colleague Andy Miofsky would be a good choice) to find out more about bank account levy rules in Missouri.

  106. Hello Jonathan,
    I am a Vietnam vet and I receive 100% disability from the VA and I am enrolled in the VA medical program with full health care benefits. I also started receiving SSDI in Mar of 2014. Today 1/9/2015 I received a letter from SS that they would start withholding $104.90 each month for part B medical insurance. My Question is, why are they doing this know that I am already enrolled at the VA with full benefits? I don’t need their insurance. I feel like I am being financially pinched without a lawful reason. Why didn’t they take any out in 2014? I would appreciate any helpful answer. Thank you

  107. Alejandro Hong-Yee says:

    I am co-registered owner in a paid up car with my daughter that I used as security on a personal loan. I am being sued for nonpayment on a different loan. If a judgement to collect my personal properties is granted by the court, is this car in jeopardy of being taken?

  108. john upshaw says:

    The state of Texas has garnished my Ss check for 1/2 of the 756$ I draw each month. This is from a back chip support case .son is now 38 yrs old. This is my only income. I shall be destitute and homeless in a month. Is there not even one in this country that will help me fight this? I could agree with 75-90$ per month,but to make me homeless at 64 yrs old???

  109. john upshaw says:

    The state of Texas has garnished 1/2 my Ss check which leaves me only 376$ mo to live on. I’m 64 yrs old. This is not right!! I can see 10-15%, but half for back child support. Ex forgot to remember the cash I gave her so she wouldn’t lose her welfare and food stamps., nor the fact my son left his moms at age 15. Can anyone help me? Worked most of my life until otj injury. Where’s the justice? I will be homeless by Christmas. Merry x- mad everyone!!

  110. I am currently receiving ssdi. I received a letter from the department of treasury saying I owe them money and they will garnish my check. This debt is from when I worked at the Post Office 8 years ago. Can they garnish my check?

  111. Yes, the Dept of Treasury can garnish.

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