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Can my Social Security be Garnished by my Creditors?

Can my Social Security be Garnished?

Social Security benefits are exempt from garnishment except in cases where the debt is owed to the government or to satisfy a child support order. Until recently, a person receiving Social Security benefits would have to prove to the bank that the income was exempt – many times after it had already been garnished. But the U.S Department of Treasury now requires banks to be proactive and protect Social Security and some other federal benefits from garnishment.

Any benefits that are directly deposited into the account are protected from garnishment up to a value of two months’ payments or the value of the account, whichever is less. When a bank receives a garnishment order, it must review the account and protect any federal benefits directly deposited into the account during the previous two months.

So, for example, if you get a direct deposit of Social Security benefits of $2,000 each month, any amount of $4,000 or less in your account at the time of the garnishment would be safe. Any money in your account over the equivalent of two months of your benefit amount would not be protected and could be garnished.

The safest thing to do is make sure you keep Social Security benefits in a separate account from any other benefits.

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