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I am 82 years old and receive ss and union pension i owe credit card debtt of 20000 dollars can they garnish iether pensions fo

Cortlandt Manor, NY |

for non paeyementt i justt cannot afford to pay 80 0 dollars amonth please help l live in west county ny thank you

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Attorney answers 3


First, if you have no other assets, you are likely judgment proof. But that may not prevent your account from being frozen. They may have to release it, after you demonstrate the only source of the funds in the account are retirement pension (ERISA qualified) and/or social security.

ERISA qualified pension accounts are protected from judgment execution, but you should consult with an attorney near you to be sure that your pension is a qualified pension. The simpler solution is to consider filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you qualify and have any assets that might be levied upon. For this, you will definitely want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney near you. Bankruptcy can forever discharge this debt and ensure that you never have to worry about them seeking to collect upon this judgment.

Best of luck,

John M. Crane, Esq.


The Social Security benefits definitely are protected so long as they are identifiable as Social Security funds (not co-mingled with other monies) and as noted by my esteemed colleague, the pension benefits likely also are protected. However, if you are mixing these funds in the same bank account they may lose some of their protection. You may want to consider keep the monies totally separate so they are not put into danger of levy.

If a creditor other than the federal government tries to garnish your Social Security benefits, inform them that such an action violates Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407).

NOTE: SSI payments are not subject to garnishment.

Section 207 bars garnishment of your benefits. It can also be used as a defense if your benefits are incorrectly garnished. SSA has responsibility for protecting benefits against garnishment, assignments and other legal processes usually ends when the beneficiary is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under section 207 of Act as long as they are identifiable as Social Security benefits.

However, the creditor may go after your bank account or other assets. You may lose the federal Social Security protection if you co-mingle your SSA money with other monies. Check with an attorney in your state.

Federal regulations require that banks which receive a garnishment order for an account into which Social Security, VA, Railroad Retirement, or Federal pensions have been deposited, must look more closely before honoring the garnishment order. The bank has to figure out the sum of such Federal benefit payments that have been deposited to the account during a two month period, and must ensure that the account holder has access to an amount equal to that sum or to the current balance of the account, whichever is lower.

Under this new regulation, you do not forfeit your protection from garnishment by mingling your Federal checks with other money -- but there are limits on the amount of money in your account that's protected from garnishment. Only 2 months worth of benefits are protected. Additionally, don't transfer benefits to another account or else the protection is void.

Federal law says that many Federal benefit payments like Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, Veteran’s benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, and benefits from the Office of Personnel Management are not subject to garnishment in most cases. This means that these funds are exempt.

Your bank may be required to automatically protect some of your Federal benefits if they are direct deposited into your bank account and you may be able to stop your creditors from taking other exempt funds from your bank account.

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.


Depending on the source opf the pension it may be garnished. SS benefits aare protected. You should try and make sure that they are not commingled in the same bank account of the pension benefits are exempt.

Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.

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