If you have outstanding debts and are receiving Social Security, you might wonder if your creditors are able to garnish your benefits. Whether or not a creditor can garnish your Social Security benefits will depend on the types of debt that you have. The professionals at Elder Care Direction can help you to understand when a garnishment might be legal and when it might be disallowed.
Most types of debt
For debts such as medical bills, personal loans, and credit cards, creditors cannot garnish your Social Security benefits. The creditors are able to get a court order to garnish your bank account. If you have your Social Security check deposited directly into your bank, your bank must protect your benefits. Banks are required to look at your prior two months worth of transactions to see if you received Social Security benefits via direct deposit. If you receive $1,200 per month in benefits, the bank will protect double that amount in your account from your creditors.
If your Social Security check is not directly deposited but is instead deposited by you, the entire amount in your account can be frozen by the bank. You will then have to prove that the money in your account was from Social Security in court.
Debts that can be garnished
Some types of debts can be garnished from your Social Security benefits. These include federal student loans, federal taxes, alimony, child support, criminal restitution, and other federal debts. For tax debts, the IRS can garnish 15 percent of your Social Security benefits. The government can garnish 15 percent of your Social Security benefits for non-tax governmental debts such as student loans if the remaining balance of your check will be $750 or more.
The amounts that can be garnished for alimony and child support vary from state to state. The maximum that can be garnished for child support is 60 percent if you do not support another child, 50 percent if you do support another child, or 65 percent if your rearrange amount is more than 12 years old.
If you receive supplemental security income, it cannot be garnished for any type of debt. SSDI can be garnished, however.
Learn more about garnishments
If your Social Security benefits are being garnished, and you believe that the garnishment is unlawful, talk to Elder Care Direction. We can answer your questions and refer you to an elder law attorney. Contact us today by filling out our contact form.