Not as to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I understand that this was not your question but the reason I add this is that some people get confused with the nomenclature and call one type of benefit another. As to Social Security benefits, Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) protects Social Security benefits from assignment, levy, or garnishment. But there are the law some exceptions:
• Section 459 of the Act (42 U.S.C. 659) allows Social Security benefits to be garnished to enforce child support and/or alimony obligations;
• Section 3402 (P) of the Internal Revenue Code allows beneficiaries to elect to have a percentage of their benefits withheld and paid to the Internal Revenue Service to satisfy their Federal income tax liability for the current year;
• Section 6334 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 6334 (c)) allows benefits to be garnished to collect unpaid Federal taxes;
• The Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34) authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to collect overdue federal tax debts of beneficiaries by levying up to 15 percent of each monthly payment until the debt is paid.
• The Social Security Administration's responsibility for protecting benefits against legal process and assignment usually ends when the beneficiary is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under section 207 of the Act only as long as they are identifiable as Social Security benefits. This applies to money in a bank account where the only payments into the account are from direct deposit of Social Security benefits.
• The Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134) allows benefits to be withheld and paid to another Federal agency to pay a non-tax debt the beneficiary owes to that agency.
However, there are a number of circumstances when the Federal government can garnish Social Security benefits.
• To collect unpaid federal taxes under 26 USC 6334(c).
• To enforce a valid garnishment for court-ordered victim restitution under 18 USC 3613.
• To have a portion of your check withheld to satisfy a current year federal income tax liability under 26 USC 3402 (P).
• To enforce child support or alimony obligations under 42 USC 659.
• Other federal agencies will offset benefits to collect money from benefits to pay a non-tax debt owed to that agency according to the Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134).
Disclaimer: the above does not constitute legal advice and is only an opinion of the author as to current law. You should consult an attorney with questions about your particular situation.
No, you cannot have your SS income garnished if you are sued becasue of the dog.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
I agree with Mr. Palso's thorough answer. One thing to remember is to make sure you DO NOT commingle SS funds with any other funds. If you do then a judgement/garnishment can take your money so it is imperative that you keep all money separate from your SS funds. Other than that they can not garnish your SS.
"Nothing in this communication is meant to establish an attorney-client relationship. The information is provided for educational purposes only. No action will be taken on your behalf unless you have have hired me and entered into a written retainer agreement. I am only licensed in Tennessee and I suggest contacting an attorney in your specific city and state as soon as possible to avoid any statute of limitations deadlines, if applicable."