Answers about Garnishments

Can my Social Security or other federal benefits be garnished?

Federal law says that many federal benefit payments including, among others: Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, Veteran’s benefits, federal student aid, military annuities and survivors’ benefits, and benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, are not subject to garnishment in most cases. These benefits are referred to as “exempt funds.”

Your bank may be required to automatically protect two months’ worth of certain federal benefits if they are direct deposited into your bank account. The federal benefits that banks must automatically protect are: Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, Veteran’s benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, and benefits from the Office of Personnel Management. Although other exempt federal benefits are not automatically protected, you may be able to stop your creditors from taking other exempt funds from your bank account.

However, there are exceptions to the exemption from garnishment. For example, your Veteran’s benefits, Social Security, or certain other government benefits may still be garnished to pay delinquent child support, federal student loans, or federal taxes. The bank is required to garnish your account in these instances even if the federal benefits are directly deposited into your bank account.

September 2017