Who Has The Right To Garnish My Disability Benefits?

In most cases, Social Security benefits are protected from garnishment

Garnishment: Gavel over a pile of money

While your disability benefits are generally protected from garnishment, there are exceptions. These exceptions include child support, alimony, restitution, or taxes. State law will vary regarding a valid garnishment order. By law, Social Security will garnish current and continuing benefits only. They will not make retroactive adjustments.

It should be noted, that you cannot appeal to the Social Security Administration regarding garnishment orders as they have no control over the reduction imposed on your benefits. You would need to contact the imposing party (i.e. child support, IRS, court). You can choose for Social Security to withhold a percentage of your benefits to pay to the Internal Revenue Service to satisfy your federal income tax liability for the current year if your benefits are over a certain amount.

Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407) addresses the garnishment protocol. As noted above, Social Security benefits are protected from garnishment, levy or other withholdings by the federal government, except:

  • To enforce child support and alimony obligations under Section 459 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 659)
  • For certain civil penalties under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (18 U.S.C. 3613)
  • With a Notice of Levy to collect overdue federal taxes under Section 6334(c) of the Internal Revenue Code
  • Through the Federal Payment Levy Program to collect overdue federal taxes by levying up to 15 percent of each monthly payment until the debt is paid under Section 1024 of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-34)
  • To withhold and pay another federal agency for a non-tax debt you owe to that agency according to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134).

If your court ordered garnishment changes, you should go to your local Social Security office with a new court order and the adjustment will be made accordingly.

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