Can a credit card company garnish a Federal Retirement Pay

Submitted by Trash.Talk2u on Mon, 02/16/2009 - 05:20

I have retired from the U.S. Civil Service (Not Military). I find that I do not have enough income to continue to pay my credit card debt. Will the federal government allow credit card companies to garnishee my retirement pay?

Alimony and child support are not an issue, so you don't need to tell me about that.

Social security benefits can only be garnished for recovery of Federal Taxes and alimony and child support obligations but, it cannot be garnished for recovery of credit card or any other types of debt. However the creditor can bring judgment against you to garnish your bank account. If the creditor garnishes your bank account then your account may be debited in full whenever any money gets credited in the account.

Mon, 02/16/2009 - 05:56 Permalink

Yes, I agree with Carol. Your retirement pay can never be garnished as it forms a part of social security benefit. But you should inform the bank that the money that gets credited into your account is your social security benefit so that even if the creditor brings judgment against you, they cannot garnish money from that account.

Mon, 02/16/2009 - 08:10 Permalink

Social security benefits, pension payments can not be garnished then its violation of federal law.Social security can be garnish for certain things to enforce child and alimony obligations, pay federal tax and debts owed.otherwise you can put your ss account separatly .you have to tell your bank that its asocial security account so that bank wont allow to garnish it.


Tue, 02/17/2009 - 06:33 Permalink
Shine (not verified)

I am a retired civil servant. If credit cards begin to garnish my checking account, how much time to I have before it happens?

Wed, 06/24/2009 - 18:36 Permalink

Hi Shine,

Do you deposit the retirement pay in the checking account you have mentioned? As far as I know, retirement pay is a Social Security Benefit that cannot be garnished to pay off credit card debts.

Thu, 06/25/2009 - 04:52 Permalink
Diane (not verified)

Ihad to retire to care for my husband our only income is social security and military retirement can credtt card debtor garnish our bank accout if this is our only deposits in our account?

Sun, 09/06/2009 - 19:08 Permalink

They can and they will, you need to make your bank aware that these deposits are social security or retirement, they are both a non garnishable income, they will or they should then keep a garnishment from happening on their end.

I would go talk to the people that work at the bank where your checks are deposited.

Sun, 09/06/2009 - 19:38 Permalink

Yes this is true. Both are ungarnishable but the credit card companies will do everything in their power to collect. You need to make sure you financial institution has a full understanding of what is going on. Also if they were to take you to court let the judge know these are your only two sources of income that get deposited.
If they would however attach the account after letting the bank and judge know I would imagine you could get your money returned it would just take some time.

Tue, 09/08/2009 - 13:03 Permalink
Ron (not verified)

Several years ago I had my checking acct. garnished monthly for a little over two years each and every month (no particular date of the month) more or less at random for a credit card debt...The bank knew that the money being deposited each month was from military retirement pay through direct deposit...I was unaware until now that I could have put a stop to this garnishment but the bank allowed this to go on...The attorney that issued this proceeding, did so with an unsigned court document was in my opinion just like many other attorneys (not saying all are like this) but this one was totally out of line...He even stated to the court in a signed document that my military retirement pay was "non-earned, as if it was a gift...I pay taxes on this income so for income purposes it is indeed considered "earned!" Nonetheless, the debt was payed off but there were times when I had to pay overdraft fee's for such automatic deductions I had coming out of my acct. each month for car insurance, health or other deductions because at random my acct. was garnished without warning...Had to borrow money from family members on many occasions to pay for these numerous overdrafts for over two years...End of story!

Sun, 10/04/2009 - 03:58 Permalink
Ric (not verified)

can a military retirement be garnished by credit card companies or store credit card?

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 19:53 Permalink

Hi Ric,

No it can not be garnished. As the others have said you need to let your bank know that the money going into your account is your retirement money. So if they try to garnish your account they can stop it from happening.

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 22:10 Permalink

I would need additional information. You would also need to take action(s) to protect your rights. You could lose your rights by not carefully segregating your funds. So long as the retirement checks are from an ERISA Qualified Plan, they're exempt. The county pension and the S.S. are also exempt. But, you need to protect the exemptions. Read everything you receive from the Court if they sue you!
For more info you can visit the site:

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 06:40 Permalink

I do not believe that military retirment can be garnished but am not 100% sure. If you want to find out so your know for sure you can do couple of things. One is try calling your atty. general in your state. He or she is equipped with lots of knowledge regarding collection issues.
You can also continue your search online and see if others have had a similiar question. One thing you will need to know is if the creditor would get a judgment on the debt and your benefits can not be attached then you need to clarify with any bank that you deposit the retirment money into that these funds are specifically retirement funds and let them know about the collector. Sometimes once money is deposited and no there is no knowledge of all the above, they will try to take it.

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 14:33 Permalink

It depends on what type of garnishment you are talking about, If it is a federa deal then yeah the government will take their money, especially if they are the ones distributing the check.

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 23:45 Permalink
jlb104 (not verified)

im also on disability with a few outstanding credit card bills. you say they can touch your bank account. im from wisconsin. whats the procedure to prevent this besides filing for bankruptcey

Tue, 12/22/2009 - 03:10 Permalink
Ric (not verified)

I contacted my bank and their response was, they couldn't tag my account for that purpose, even though I have only my military retirement going into my bank account. I know credit card companies can't garnish my retirement pay, but can they arrest a person for not paying credit card payments? Other then placing leans or repossessing items, and getting bad credit reports, what can a credit card company do to a person if I can't make those payments?

Mon, 01/04/2010 - 19:18 Permalink

Ric, No they can not put you in jail for not paying a credit card debt. If that was the fact the jail cells would be over flled. The credit card companies can get a judgment against you and if they do then they can attach any monies from law suits, home sell and things like that. If they do start attaching your bank account your bank needs to step in since it is social security wages. If they do not call your atty general.

Mon, 01/04/2010 - 22:51 Permalink

You can file a whole lot of information on the governments fair debt collection website, it will break it all down for you so you know what to expect and let you know what your rights are as a consumer.

fireyone is right, they can not send you to jail, there is not debtors prison, however they can file a lawsuit and obtain a judgement against you. But still you have options, if they decide to file a suit against you then you answer the summons and hopefully you will end up in mediation where you can then work out a payment plan that works for you.

I wish you luck, keep us updated and we will try to help you along the way. Hope to hear from you again on here. :)

Wed, 01/06/2010 - 18:54 Permalink

Your state rep. can also hel you. This is especially true if it is any type of social security or retirement. I got a flyer in the mail from my state rep today and it listed the service they perform for their offices and it mentioned this.

Thu, 01/07/2010 - 03:02 Permalink

Yes, each state representative has special committees that they sit on, they have people in their offices that will step up and make some calls on your behalf. Great advice fireyone, you rock!

Thu, 01/07/2010 - 03:37 Permalink
ANTHONY AGUILAR (not verified)


Tue, 01/26/2010 - 14:57 Permalink
Aaron (not verified)

Hi Anthony,

No, nobody else other than the government can garnish Federal Retirement Income Tax Return. However for this you first need to inform the bank that your money comes from Social Security Retirement.

All the best,


Wed, 01/27/2010 - 06:41 Permalink
jose borromeo (not verified)


Tue, 02/16/2010 - 21:05 Permalink

Hi Jose,

Nobody can garnish the Social Security Income and Pension Benefits. However once you put the money in your bank account, it may get garnished, as it becomes indistinguishable from general money. To avoid this you can inform the bank though this is not a safe option. Other than this you can open a new account in some other bank which the creditors may not be able to reach.

However, the best option is to pay the debt and get rid of the harassment. Another thing which you can do is, check the statute of limitations of your state (SOL). SOL also varies according to your account. If the SOL has expired, the creditor or the collection agency won't be able to sue you, and thus won't be able to garnish your accounts.

Hope this helps.

Wed, 02/17/2010 - 10:18 Permalink
Ric (not verified)

I have heard both ways on should I contact my credit card company to inform them that I can't pay on that account. One person says yes and another says no, what is the best course of action? I know that some state have laws saying that if you have no contact between a person and a credit card company that the debt goes away after a certain time frame. Of course their action is destroying your credit report, but that is a given anyway. And the only income I have is my military retirement which I understand can't be garnished. They can take me to court, but they can't get blood from a turnip, can they? I have contacted my back and they told me they can't flag an account for monies that is deposited, that they go by a court order, in my case the only money I have is my retirement pay, what protection do I have? If I change backs then isn't that hiding and the courts can get involved? Please help.

Fri, 02/26/2010 - 21:57 Permalink

Hi Ric,

You can contact your credit card company to inform that, you won't be able to pay the high amount each month. You can request them for a debt settlement, as settlement lowers the outstanding amount by 40-60%. Military retirement pay is not garnishable. However, your account needs to have deposits only from the retirement pay. If you can prove this to the company and the bank, they may not be able to garnish your retirement pay.

However, you may check the state laws regarding garnishment of retirement pays.

Hope this helps.



Sat, 02/27/2010 - 05:44 Permalink
Beverly Drake (not verified)

Can you borrow aganist your Civil Service Retiremnet for a loan?

Fri, 06/04/2010 - 19:05 Permalink

Hi Beverly,

Yes, you can use Civil Service Retirement to pay off your loan. However, you can check out their website for more details.

Can I know why do you want to use the retirement money to pay off the loan? You can rather try to negotiate a repayment plan with the lender after sending them a hardship letter, mentioning about your financial crisis. Get the agreement in writing.



Sat, 06/05/2010 - 10:10 Permalink
mary Foley (not verified)

Can a credit card company attach a pension from the Federal Government as in the Post Office retirement?

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 02:00 Permalink

I am not real sure, I would think they might try if they get their hands on the information. I am sure someone here will have the answer, check back for my replies to your post.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 03:41 Permalink

Hi Mary,

No, federal pension is not garnishable. However, still it's better to check your state laws on garnishment.



Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:42 Permalink
crusial (not verified)

How to have my social security money returned to my bank acct....the bank agrees this money should be returned....but it should have never been released in the first place in my mind.....the account held my social security deposit money. I do not work. What can I do?

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 21:50 Permalink

Hi crusial,

but it should have never been released in the first place in my mind

The bank is not supposed to release the Social Security money in the first place. You have mentioned the bank agrees that the money should be returned. So, get that agreement in writing.

Hope that this will work out.



Wed, 08/11/2010 - 09:44 Permalink

Hi jenny,

No Federal pension is not garnishable under the Federal Law. However, you will have to notify this with the court. Also check your state's garnishment laws.



Thu, 08/12/2010 - 12:07 Permalink
crusial (not verified)

Once a garnishment is issued to freeze a bank account and it is done....can the debt collecting law firm for a credit card company take money from an account at will or do they need court orders each time this is done?

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 06:54 Permalink

Hi crusial,

Generally the creditor can garnish your account six times at a row. However, this cannot be in the same month itself. Garnishment laws also differ according to the state. So, you should check out your state's garnishment laws.



Tue, 08/17/2010 - 07:55 Permalink
Robert Hobbs (not verified)

can my navy retirement or social security monrys be garnished from my checking account

Sun, 08/29/2010 - 20:25 Permalink

Hi Robert Hobbs,

No, under Federal law Social Security Income (SSI) and Navy Retirement cannot be garnished. However, you will have to notify your creditor and bank about your income that comes from SSI and Navy Retirement.



Mon, 08/30/2010 - 12:17 Permalink
Peewee (not verified)

It does no good to go to your bank and tell them your funds are exempt. If the bank receives an Order from the Court then they have to obey that Order. It is up to the debtor to go to court and prove the funds are exempt.

Tue, 09/07/2010 - 01:08 Permalink

Hi Peewee,

If you keep a separate account for Social Security Income and notify the bank and creditor about this then your account cannot get garnished. This is against the law. Also, you need to declare this in court during the court session.



Wed, 09/08/2010 - 11:09 Permalink
Pete A. Gonzales (not verified)

If I inform my bank that my direct deposits are strictly Military Retirement and Social Security benefits and that if a judgement is brought against me....that the bank won't allow garnishments. Does the bank have some kind of form I need to complete?

Thank You!

Wed, 09/22/2010 - 15:32 Permalink

Hi Pete,

Does the bank have some kind of form I need to complete?

I don't think banks have these kinds of forms. But you need to notify the bank about your exempt income.



Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:26 Permalink
RickP. (not verified)

Can Illinois garnish my federal pension & VA benifits for unsecured
debt? This is my sole source of income. The debt is all credit cards & an unsecured line of credit.

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 16:37 Permalink
c.smith (not verified)

I have been unemployed since my injury from USAF I have recently started a new job and I have debt that I have not been able to pay on for some time almost 5 years for most debts and I dont receive any letters of judgements or anything but I have been moving around since getting out of the military. My question is can these companies that I owe garnish from my account if I open one and how can I go about finding all the people I owe and making payments on these things. I owe 2 creditors and I owe the military for overpaying me when discharged.

Fri, 10/22/2010 - 20:43 Permalink
Sharon (not verified)

I only make 8000 a year and have 20k in Credit Card debt. No other money. I don't get checks from anythign else, I always owe income tax and have to pay property taxes. I had called OPM tomake sure that the Credit Card company can't garnish the wages, and she said no. I do not plan on paying them anymore as I am only getting 600 a month and trying to pay bills, eat, pay for medications, etc.

How would a creditor get your bank account information to try and garnish it? I know when my money comes in it says 'US Treasurey' on it.

Should I evenfile for bankruptcy? Or should I just let it go? Some say yes and some say no. I'd have to save for a year to get the money for bankruptcy.

Mon, 12/27/2010 - 18:15 Permalink
Sharon (not verified)

Also, OPM said something that if they get a court order other than what is allowed, they can't even give out the monies prior to deposit. But I would still have to contact the bank to informa them.

Also, how long after you stop paying your bills does it take for them to go through this process of getting a judgement against you. And how do they get your bank information?

Mon, 12/27/2010 - 18:20 Permalink
daniel chiarella (not verified)

I co signed a school loan for my daughter She has not paid it they are after me. I live in Illinois and my retirement pay federal and military plus survivor benefits for my wife dying is my only income can they garnish my pay

Fri, 03/18/2011 - 21:48 Permalink
zany (not verified)

I would like to know if collection agencies have the right to call your in-laws or anyone else. My phone was stolen so now they are calling people who know me.

Mon, 03/21/2011 - 21:53 Permalink