Can My Social Security Benefits Be Garnished?

Once you go through the arduous process of applying and being granted Social Security benefits, if you owe debts, unfortunately, your benefits may be garnished by collectors. While banks and other financial creditors can’t touch your Social Security benefits, the government can. The Federal Government can attach your benefits for repayment of various debts.
Can My Social Security Benefits Be Garnished?

Federal Income Taxes

If you have failed to pay your federal income taxes your Social Security Benefits may be subject to the 15-percent levy through the Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP). You will also receive ample notices and a fair amount of time to establish a repayment before the garnishing of your benefits.

The FPLP is used to satisfy tax debts, the IRS may levy your Social Security benefits regardless of the amount. You can expect to see fifteen percent of the Social Security benefits collected through the FPLP whether or not you receive less than $750.

Student Loans

When it comes to owing money on a student loan, it doesn’t matter how long ago you were in school. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court determined there that is no statute of limitations on Social Security offsets to repay student loans. The government will collect up to 15 percent of your benefits, provided your remaining monthly benefit doesn’t fall below $750.

Delinquent Child Support and Alimony

The National Court Ordered Garnishment System handles all delinquent child support and alimony. Depending upon the state you live the maximum amount varies. The amount collected is limited to either state law or The Consumer Credit Protection Act, whichever is less.

According to the CCPA:

  • up to half your benefits if you are supporting a child or spouse in addition to the one involved in the court order
  • 60 percent if you’re not supporting another child or spouse
  • up to 65 percent if the original court-ordered support is more than 12 weeks in arrears