Can your Social Security benefits be garnished? None of your social security benefits are subject to garnishment, if the creditor is a non governmental entity such as a auto loan company, credit card, or mortgage or some other non governmental entity. Specially, Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) bars the garnishment of any Social Security benefits regardless of there whether the benefits are in the possession of the Social Security Administration, the beneficiary, or in a bank account.
The Social Security Administration’s responsibility for protecting benefits against garnishment, assignments and other legal processes ends when the beneficiary is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under section 207 of Act as long as they are identifiable as Social Security benefits.
Some time a bank inadvertently honor a garnishment, if Social Security benefits are deposited in to a bank account. In this situation you should send a letter to the lawyer who is representing the creditor advising him that funds that were garnished was Social Security benefits and therefore exempt from garnishment. Also, contact your bank an inform them of the same.
Keep in mind, that Social Security benefits can be garnished, levied or otherwise withheld by the Federal government. There are a number of circumstances in which the Federal government can garnish Social Security benefits. Such as:
•To enforce child support or alimony obligations under Section 459 of the Social Security Act;
•Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can levy against benefits to collect unpaid Federal taxes according to Section 6334©) of the Internal Revenue Code;
•IRS can collect taxes due by levying up to 15 percent of a monthly benefit until the debt is paid;
•IRS allows beneficiaries to have a portion of their check withheld to satisfy a current year Federal income tax liability according to Section 3402 (P) of the Internal Revenue Code;
•Other Federal agencies can collect money from benefits to pay a non-tax debt owed to that agency according to the Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134); and
•Under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act, certain civil penalties provide the right to garnish benefits under 18 USC 3613.