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Can Social Security be garnished by creditors?

As you probably already know, creditors can obtain a court order to begin garnishing a debtor’s wages. What that means is that your creditors could be allowed to take a portion of your hard-earned money before it even makes it to your bank account.

But what if your income comes from Social Security? You may be wondering if that, too, can be garnished by creditors. The answer to that question is no, in most situations. However, it depends on the type of Social Security payments you are receiving. 

Supplemental Security Income is paid to individuals who are disabled, blind or elderly and cannot provide for themselves financially. SSI cannot be garnished by any type of creditor, including the IRS.

Social Security Disability Insurance is paid to workers who have paid into the Social Security system and have become too disabled to work. SSDI cannot be garnished by most creditors, except for the government for purposes of collecting back taxes, child support, federal student loan debt or overpayments by government agencies.

Social Security retirement benefits are paid to individuals who have paid into the Social Security system once they reach retirement age. These payments are treated the same as SSDI, meaning that they can only by garnished by the government.

As you can see, all types of Social Security income cannot be garnished by most creditors. However, one way people get into trouble with this is by mingling Social Security payments with other funds that can be garnished.

One way to put an immediate stop to wage garnishment is by filing for bankruptcy protection. To find out more about stopping wage garnishment through bankruptcy or fending off creditors who are trying to garnish your Social Security payments, contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in your area.

Source:, "Can a Debt Collector Come After My Social Security?" Gerri Detweiler, May 23, 2014

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