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Can my bank account be garnished if my social security disability check is my only income?

Kirkland, WA |

I recd a writ to garnish from a auto I voluntarily returned in 2007. Could not pay for it and have been on disability ever since . no other source of income. Had heard nothing from them until this letter came today. The writ is asking me to send my exemption claim info asap. Not sure what I should do.

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Attorney answers 3


A garnishment can only happen after you have been sued and the plaintiff has received a judgment against you. The caption on the papers will advise you what court issued this order. You will want to look yourself up on line at under "find my court date". Figure out what happened.

If the car was repoed in 2007, it would be very important to know exactly when they filed suit against you, as if you were never served the SOL may have run. If that is true, then you may be able to get the action dismissed. Please understand that this is NOT self help law.

The King County Bar has neighborhood clinics you can attend to get more individualized attention with your issue. You are correct that disability income is not garnishable, but it happens all the time. If you google "National Association of Consumer Attorneys" you may be able to find somebody very local who understands debt collection defense and has some way to get their fees paid after this is dismissed. I wish you all the best with this.

Elizabeth Powell

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As long as the only funds in the account are clearly from SS, the bank should not release them. You need to make sure that you do not mix other funds in the account. I suggest to my clients that they have the SS funds deposited into a savings account. ALL other funds should be put in the checking account. When the checking account gets low, transfer some of the SS funds from savings to checking as needed. NEVER put any other money into the savings account. Even if you have to go to court to protect the funds, you will be able to show that it is all SS money and therefore protected from garnishment.


Your bank has an affirmative obligation under present federal regulations to determine the source of the funds in your bank account, and refuse to release them if they are Social Security. The problem is the havoc resulting when the account is frozen pending the investigation of the source, during which check s can bounce and bank fees accrue. For precise instructions on claiming your available exemption(s) contact a local consumer-rights attorney or legal aid program.

Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.