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My bank received a garnishment order. Is my bank required to determine if my deposit account includes Social Security or other federal benefit payments?

Generally, yes. If your bank receives a garnishment order for your bank account, and the garnishment order was not obtained by the federal government or a state child support enforcement agency, it must perform an account review to identify federal benefits received within a "lookback period" consisting of the preceding two months. Up to two months of federal benefits are automatically protected from garnishment, but the amount automatically protected will depend on the balance of the account on the day of review.

The bank must perform the account review within two business days of receiving the garnishment order. The review looks at the two-month lookback period ending on the calendar day before the day that the bank performs the review.

  • Example 1: A bank receives a garnishment order on Wednesday, November 17, and performs the account review on Thursday, November 18. The period under review begins two months earlier, on Friday, September 17, and ends on Wednesday, November 17th, the day preceding the date of the account review.
  • Example 2: A bank receives a garnishment order on Tuesday, August 30, and performs the account review two business days later, on Thursday, September 1. The period under review ends on Wednesday, August 31, the day preceding the date of account review. The period begins on Wednesday, June 30, the last date of the month two months earlier, since there is no June 31 to correspond with August 31.
  • Example 3: A bank receives a garnishment order on Wednesday, March 17, and performs the account review the same day. The period under review begins on Saturday, January 16, and ends on Tuesday, March 16, the date preceding the date of account review.
  • Example 4: A bank receives a garnishment order on Friday, December 10, and performs the account review two business days later, on Tuesday, December 14. The period under review ends on Monday, December 13, the date preceding the date of account review. The period begins on Wednesday, October 13, the corresponding date two months earlier.

Review a copy of the garnishment order because it may contain instructions or other information about how to protect funds 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. You can also contact the creditor or the court that issued the order.

Last Reviewed: October 2020

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on HelpWithMyBank.gov should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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