Can My Federal Benefits Be Garnished?

This question is quite common to ask in today’s business era, especially when there is no proper answer available to this question. For your assistance, we have jotted down some of the important details through which you can see how generally wages are garnished and which assets exactly are at risk of being seized.

What’s Wage Garnishment?

If you owe someone money and you don’t pay it on time, that person can sue you in court to win a judgment against you, yes that is right. And not just this creditor then can ask the judge for an order to garnish your assets. Now you must be wondering which of your assets can the creditors go after, well this all depends on the creditor’s choice there are not any specifications. For most creditors, your wages, bank account, and any other assets you may have, including property are fair game.

What Benefits or Assets Are Exempted from Garnishment?

Well generally, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veteran’s Affairs (VA) benefits are exempted from garnishment. VA benefits can be garnished for certain child support obligations, but that’s it. Other exempted federal benefits include the following; Military annuities and survivor benefits, Railroad retirement benefits, Civil service, and Federal retirement and disability, most pensions, Federal student aid/student loans, and so on. We do have good news for you and that is that creditors holding medical bills, personal loans, or payday loans are prohibited from garnishing any federal benefits.

Federal Benefits May Not Be Totally Protected:

As we said above, Social Security, SSI, and VA benefits directly deposited into your bank account are protected except for child support and debts owed to the federal government. But your accounts can still be frozen and seized. If you have federal benefits in those accounts, they may be frozen as well. Everything is controlled by the so-called Final Rule which was issued by the US Treasury Department a few years ago, and the Rule requires banks to identify and add up all protected federal benefits that have been directly deposited into an account within the past 60 days. The bank may not freeze those benefits; they must remain available to the account holder.

Protecting Federal Benefits from Garnishment:

The bank is probably the safest place for your money. If you are worried about the possibility that your account will be garnished, you should open two accounts. In one account, place only the protected federal benefits that make it easier to identify those benefits when they aren’t mixed in with the rest of your money. Open a second account for your unprotected assets and spend the money in this account first. Since it’s vulnerable to seizure, you want to minimize the amount in it, so spending the money from this one will be a great idea. So, by the end, we would only suggest that If you find yourself in a position of owing a creditor, even if it’s the IRS, try working out an agreement with them or hire yourself an experienced tax attorney, this way you can try to work out a payment plan or a compromise with the creditor or the entity that is collecting the debt.

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