Can My Social Security Benefits Be Garnished for Debt?

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When you have creditors after you for getting behind on your bills, it can be very intimidating and overwhelming. Therefore it is important to understand your rights.

Creditors who are looking to collect money from you are generally unable to garnish your Social Security disability benefits, whether it is Social Security Disability (SSD)or SSI (Supplemental Security Income). In fact, disability income is exempt from creditors, however, there are some exceptions.


While most creditors are barred from garnishing your SSDI or SSI for debt owed, the federal government is able to do so. The federal government can garnish your benefits in order to recover any money that you owe it including defaulted student loan payments guaranteed by the federal government or even back taxes.

SSD benefits can also be garnished in order to obtain back or current child support obligations. Other types of debt for which the federal government can garnish your SSDI benefits include:

  • Non-tax debt owed to federal agencies
  • Defaulted federal home loans
  • Certain civil penalties

SSI Cannot Be Garnished

However, it is important to remember that SSI cannot be taken to pay for anything. The only way in which the government can get back SSI is if it discovers that you are not entitled to it.

In spite of these rules, Social Security disability and SSI money is sometimes illegally garnished from bank accounts. This is because banks used to comply with court orders for garnishment without checking to see the source of the money from which the court was taking.

It is for this reason that in 2011 a federal law was passed that now requires banks to review the accounts to determine if Social Security funds have been deposited prior to garnishing the money.

If you would like to protect your disability money from a garnishment order that you believe may be filed against you, you can file a document with the court so that your income is protected from creditors.

The Disability Attorneys of Michigan Can Help

Disability Attorneys of Michigan work hard every day helping the disabled of Michigan seek the Social Security Disability Benefits they need. If you are unable to work due to a physical, mental, or cognitive impairment, call Disability Attorneys of Michigan now for a free consultation at 800-701-5524.

Let Michigan’s experienced Social Security Disability law firm help you get the benefits you deserve.

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I will never forget you and the hard work you did to secure my Social Security Disability benefits. Thank you!

- Christine C.