Can My Social Security Disability Benefits Be Garnished?

Overdue credit card billsIt is against the law for a private company to garnish your Social Security disability payments. However, while businesses aren’t allowed to dock your disability payments because of your debts, the federal government is, under certain conditions, allowed to reduce your payments if you owe money to the United States or certain relatives.

Rules for Private Companies – Such as Credit Card Companies

Your Social Security payment should not be garnished for the following reasons:

  • Unpaid credit card bills
  • An unpaid car loan
  • An unpaid loan to any bank
  • An unpaid loan to any company or business
  • Unpaid private student loans

While Social Security disability income garnishment to satisfy credit card or other private debt is typically not allowed by the law, some creditors may try to do it anyway. Prior to 2011, a bank could comply with a court order regarding garnishment without investigating the source of the funds in the bank account. Pursuant to current law, however, banks have a duty to determine whether Social Security funds have been deposited in the account and would, thus, be used to pay a garnishment order. Since most Social Security disability payments are now direct deposited, it is important to check your account regularly for any evidence of illegal garnishment.

Different Rules Apply to Government Garnishment

The United States is allowed to garnish your payments, to a certain extent, for the following reasons:

  • Unpaid child support or spousal support
  • Unpaid federal student loans
  • Unpaid federal taxes and back taxes
  • Unpaid federal business loans

You will be informed before the government begins to garnish your check, and you may appeal the garnishment at this time. However, you have limited time to take action. If you do nothing, the garnishment will begin.

This is your money and no one will guard it or take care of it like you. Thus, it is important to know your rights and to take prompt action if you believe a debt collector or credit card company is illegally garnishing your Social Security disability income. For more information about what to do if you find yourself in this situation, please call us directly at 877-898-1581 to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.

Carl M. Weisbrod
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Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law