Can My Retirement & Social Security Be Garnished?


If you are living on the income provided by Social Security or a retirement pension, you may have concerns about a debt collector's ability to garnish your income to recover a debt. Generally, a private creditor cannot do so, but the government can.


  • Private creditors, such as credit card companies and collection agencies, are not permitted to garnish Social Security or retirement income. The federal government, however, can.


  • The government may garnish your Social Security or retirement pay for unpaid taxes, child support or alimony.


  • The Consumer Credit Protection Act states that the amount of any garnishment, including those levied by the federal government, cannot exceed 25 percent of your disposable weekly income.


  • Unlike a private creditor, the government is not required to sue you and obtain a court judgment against you in order to proceed with a garnishment.


  • In addition to garnishing your retirement and Social Security checks, the government may also garnish your bank accounts or place a lien against any property that you own.

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  • Photo Credit Image by, courtesy of lost in translation) (Gordana Adamovic-Mladenovic
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