Are Social Security benefits attachable?


Quick Answer

Social Security benefits cannot be attached or garnished by a creditor to pay most types of debt, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There are some exceptions. Social Security benefits or Disability benefits can be garnished to pay child support, alimony and Federal taxes, explains the Social Security Administration.

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Full Answer

Though Social Security Disability, or SSD, benefits can be garnished to pay child support, Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, cannot, according to the U.S. Department of Child Support Services. SSD is considered to be a replacement for money earned by employment, so it is therefore attachable. SSI, however, is considered a form of public assistance granted to prevent the recipient from falling into poverty and is not considered employment income, and therefore it is not attachable.

Other types of debt, such as credit card debt, cannot be garnished from Social Security benefits, explains the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When a bank receives a garnishment order, as of 2011, it is obligated under Federal law to protect up two months of payments from garnishment and to notify the account holder of the protected amount. If the benefits are exempt, the account holder must next fight the garnishment. Funds must be electronically deposited into the recipient's bank account to be protected, and they cannot be transferred to another account.

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