Can My Social Security Disability Benefits Be Garnished?


Garnishment is when a creditor keeps part of a check or payment to pay your debts, and a levy is a legal seizure of your property to satisfy a tax debt. One common concern for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients is whether their benefits can be garnished or levied. Here’s what you need to know.

Can SSDI Benefits Be Garnished?

The short answer is yes but with certain limitations and exceptions. SSDI benefits and backpay are both subject to garnishment for specific types of debts, including:

  1. Federal debts. If you owe money to the federal government, such as unpaid taxes or federal student loans, your SSDI benefits may be garnished to satisfy these debts. The government can withhold up to 15% of your monthly benefit amount to repay these debts.
  2. Child support or alimony. If you are required to pay child support or alimony, your SSDI benefits may be garnished to fulfill these obligations. The amount that can be garnished depends on state laws and the court order governing the support payments.
  3. Non-tax debt owed to federal agencies. Certain non-tax debts owed to federal agencies, such as overpayments of benefits or loans from the Veterans Administration, can also result in garnishment of SSDI benefits.

SSDI benefits cannot be garnished for most other types of debts, such as credit card debt, medical bills, or private loans.

Exceptions and Protections

While SSDI benefits can be garnished for the types of debts mentioned above, certain protections are in place to ensure that recipients have enough income to meet their basic needs. For example:

  1. Protected amount. The law ensures SSDI recipients have minimum benefits protected from garnishment. The protected amount is $750 per month or $9,000 per year.
  2. Hardship provision. If you can demonstrate that the garnishment of your SSDI benefits would cause you undue financial hardship, you may request a reduction in the garnishment amount or a temporary suspension.
  3. Appeal rights. You have the right to appeal a garnishment of your SSDI benefits if you believe it is unjust or improper. You can request a hearing before an administrative law judge to present your case and seek relief from the garnishment.

Can SSI Be Garnished?

Creditors cannot generally garnish Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to repay debts. It is a needs-based program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide financial assistance to elderly, blind, and disabled individuals with limited income and resources.

Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance, which is based on prior work history and contributions to the Social Security system, SSI is not subject to garnishment for most debts. However, there are a few exceptions where SSI funds may be subject to specific legal obligations, such as child support, federal taxes, or court-ordered victim restitution.

Safeguard Your Financial Security With Disability Attorneys of Michigan

While SSDI benefits can be garnished for certain types of debts, there are limitations and protections to ensure recipients are not left without the income they need to survive. If you are facing garnishment of your SSDI benefits, it’s essential to understand your rights and options for challenging the garnishment. Seeking advice from a qualified attorney well-versed in disability law can help you navigate this complex process and protect your benefits.

At Disability Attorneys of Michigan, we put our clients first and help secure their financial stability after a disability. For a free case evaluation, contact us today by submitting a form online or calling our office at 800-949-2900.



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

- Christine C.