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Can a debt collection agency garnish my social security disability money?

Scottsdale, AZ |

I am being threatened by a debt collection agency that will not accept any payment other than what they are demanding. They are threatening to sue. My only money is from SSDI. Can they sue?

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Attorney answers 3


I do not practice in your state. But your ssi money is exempt form garnishment under federal law. They can sue you but it is foolish and a waste of fees unless there is some asset to attach.

You will need to consult with a consumer protection lawyer locally.

1. Start keeping a detailed log of all calls and letters and a paper file of all information.

2. Make a written demand that all further communications from creditors is in writing under 15 USC 1692 (c).
The letter should also contain a dispute of the validity of the charges and include a demand for a complete accounting with signatures, and all contents of the file.
The creditor then has 30 days to reply and they may not take any action until you have been sent the validation. Bear in mind that this may be motivation for the collector to work your account when the file comes to them from the original creditor with new information.

3. Do not give them any personal information because that is how collectors decide on which accounts to recommend suing.

4. If you are going to make payments use money orders and not personal checks or “check by phone” because if they find a bank account the collector will be more likely recommend a lawsuit the their legal department.

5. All collections are negotiable; the original creditor has given up and is losing up to 50% on the face value already either by splitting any return or selling at a huge discount. In addition, the costs of a lawsuit although discounted still are a factor in the decision to settle with you.

If you are going to settle mark the check “settled-in-full” at the very top back of the check and include a letter explaining you are offering a settlement, keep copies of everything.

6. Get written confirmation of any payment plan the agency will accept before making a payment.

7. Specify in writing all payments will be applied to principle first.

I do not practice in your state and you will need to consult with a local lawyer for additional protection under your state law.

I have pasted a link to the FDPCA to help you with your federal rights;

You should read the FDPCA from the link above and become informed about your rights; this will help you and your lawyer.

I hope this information and generic advice is helpful.

Good Luck


They can sue you and they can get a court judgment, but they can NEVER take Social Security Disability benefits from you to pay the debt.


One warning: if they sue and get a judgment, they can garnish your bank account, and any money over $150 in it is frozen until 1) you request a hearing to prove to the court that it is all SSDI monies and therefore exempt, or 2) you fail to object within ten days and they get an order from the court allowing them to take it.

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