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Can social security benefits deposited into a joint savings account be garnished?

Fife Lake, MI |

My boyfriend's mother's social security benefits are direct deposited into my savings account - her name is second on the account. A Michigan based law firm garnished another of my savings accounts for a debt - judgement filed Feb 2008. Can they legally take her social security if they garnish the joint savings account?

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Attorney answers 3


It depends on what a judge says. Social security is protected when no other money gets deposited into the account, but in some states, if even one dollar of unexplained money goes into the account, it can be considered to be comingled and thus vulnerable. The bank and/or the court should be able to provide you with the forms to claim an exemption on the money in the account, but you need to act immediately. You have an argument to get the money returned, but this was a foolish way to have arranged for the social security benefits to be handled. Hope this perspective helps!


While social security benefits cannot be garnished, if the money is commingled with other funds then you do not have the same protection. The social security benefits need to be placed in a separate bank account to avoid this problem.

Tara Nichol is licensed only in the State of Michigan. All answers provided relate only to Michigan law and are made for general information purposes ONLY. They are NOT intended to be legal advice and are NOT intended to create an attorney-client relationship between Ms. Nichol and any readers or subscribers to Tara Nichol Managing Attorney at Nichol & Doering, PLLC East Lansing, MI (517) 583-0520 **FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS.**


Yes they can be. However, if you can prove that the funds that were in the account were traceable to social security, you could have the garnishment released. In the future all social security payments should be placed in a separate account and no other funds should be deposited in that account.