Can My Social Security Benefits Be Garnished?
Often, recipients of Social Security benefits are dealing with great financial stress: they are unable to work, but between medical care and normal bills, debt tends to pile up. Therefore, unfortunately, a common question I have heard from many clients is whether or not disability benefits can be garnished.
Typically, if you fall behind on certain federal loans or civil judgments, it is possible that some of your benefits could be garnished (taken) by the federal government. However, private creditors (i.e., banks) have no claim on your Social Security benefits and no one (including the government) can garnish you Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
If you are behind on paying your federal income taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can subject your benefits to a 15% levy to pay towards your delinquent federal income taxes. Interestingly, the IRS can do this irrespective of how much money you are left with for your monthly benefits. This means that low-income individuals living below the poverty line can be subject to an IRS levy for their back taxes.
Federal Student Loans
Regardless of when you received your education, if you do not pay back your loans, the federal government can seek up to 15% of your monthly Social Security benefits until the loan is paid in full. However, unlike the IRS’s ability to leave you with nothing, the federal government in this case has to leave you with at least $750 per month.
Child Support and Alimony
Finally, the most common question I get – can alimony or child support be deducted from your Social Security benefits. The short answer to this is yes, it can be. Under the Court Ordered Garnishment System, if you are delinquent in child support or alimony, up to half of your benefits can be seized if you are supporting either a child or a spouse in addition to the one involved in the court order or up to 60% of your benefits if you are not supporting another child or spouse. Additionally, if the original court order is more than 12 weeks in arrears, up to 65% of your benefits can be garnished.
If you need assistance in obtaining Social Security benefits, contact an experienced attorney who can help you during the process. Please call us at (904) 777-7777 or email us using our contact form.
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