Social Security retirement pay benefits can only be garnished to collect money owed to the federal government or to collect money owed for court-ordered child support or alimony. Supplemental Security Income cannot be garnished at all, according to Bankrate.
Banks, loan companies or other private financial companies an individual may owe money to cannot garnish or attach Social Security benefits, but the federal government can take some of their Social Security retirement pay, especially if they owe taxes or student loans. Social Security retirement pay can also be garnished to collect debt owed to other non-IRS federal agencies, defaulted federal home loans and certain other civil penalties, states Bankrate.com. The amount that can be garnished can vary from 15 to 65 percent, depending on the state in which the individual resides and the type of debt owed.
The Supplemental Security Income, which cannot be garnished, is paid to disabled adults and children, and people over 65, who otherwise would not have adequate income, according to the Social Security Administration. If benefits are subject to a liability, the individual receives 120 days notice before the garnishment begins, and they are able to file an appeal if it is felt the garnishment is made in error, as stated by Bankrate.