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Can a credit card company garnish Social Security Disability benefits?

Indianapolis, IN |

My brother's only source of income is Social Security Disability . The only property he owns is a 2000 model automobile . A major credit card company has filed suit for payment of an outstanding balance ( approx . $ 5 , 000 ) . Can they garnish his Social Security benefits or take his automobile ( his only means of transportation to doctor's appointments , grocery , etc . ) ?

Attorney Answers 4


A judgment creditor cannot attach social security benefits unless it is unclear that the money involved is from social security. So the smart thing to do is to make sure that the social security is direct deposited and that no other funds go into the account to avoid issues relating to "comingling funds."

Each state sets their own criteria for what property is protected from judgment creditors. These laws are called exemptions, and a link to a general description of what is protected is below. Hope this perspective helps!

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If the only money in the bank account comes from SS, they cannot garnish.

Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.

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No, the creditor would not be able to garnish social security payments and his property may or may not be fully exempt if he doesn't own much. That does not mean that the creditor cannot still get a judgment against him, call him into court from time to time to determine if he has assets or any changes in gaining assets, etc. Judgements in Indiana are good for 20 years.

Advice on this forum is for informational purposes only and should never be mistaken as a substitute for legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, you should consult local legal counsel.

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Social Security benefits are exempt from garnishment except in cases where the debt is owed to the government or to satisfy a child support order. Until about May 2011, a person receiving Social Security benefits would have to prove to the bank that the income was exempt – many times after it had already been garnished. But the U.S Department of Treasury now requires banks to be proactive and protect Social Security and some other federal benefits from garnishment.

Any benefits that are directly deposited into the account are protected from garnishment up to a value of two months' payments or the value of the account, whichever is less. When a bank receives a garnishment order, it must review the account and protect any federal benefits directly deposited into the account during the previous two months. So, for example, if you get a direct deposit of Social Security benefits of $2,000 each month, any amount of $4,000 or less in your account at the time of the garnishment would be safe Any money in your account over the equivalent of two months of your benefit amount would not be protected and could be garnished.

The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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