Answers about Garnishments

What can I do if my bank account is frozen and it includes Social Security or other Federal benefit payments?

After May 1, 2011, in many cases, your bank is required to automatically protect a certain amount of Federal benefits that are direct deposited into your bank account.  If money is automatically protected, it should not be frozen and you should be able to withdraw it at any time. 

If you have money in the account that is not automatically protected, you should review any notice or other information that you received about the garnishment and follow the instructions provided in the notice, including any deadlines. 

Generally, state law requires that you receive a letter or other notice telling you that a court has issued a garnishment order for money in your bank account.  The notice usually will give you information about potential exemptions and tell you what to do if you think money in your bank account is exempt from garnishment. 

Remember, the court and your creditor may not know if money in your bank account is exempt unless you tell them, because information about your bank account is private.  You can call or write to your creditor to tell them that your bank account has money that you believe is exempt from garnishment. 

If you did not get a notice about the garnishment of your account, ask your bank for a copy of the garnishment order that it received.

June 2011