Can Social Security and retirement income be garnished?

Submitted by hbchiefs on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 22:09

i can't pay my credit card bills, what can they do to me? They sent me a letter saying if I dont pay they will get a judgment and do so. I thought that retirement income source and Social Security income couldnt be garnished? Can a credit card company garnish my wages?

Anonymous (not verified)

My situation seems very small in relation to the figures quoted by so many of the posters. I owe a very small amount, less than 2,000 dollars, to a credit card company, but have not been able to pay anything, since I'm on a fixed income (workers' comp, and soon SSI)

I want to pay off this debt, but.. The main issue is that I can't pay the amount set by the collector as a sizable first payment. I've asked that they help me find a smaller amount each month that I can pay, but so far they have refused that amount.

When you have an income as limited as mine, hundreds of dollars can equal thousands...if I don't have it...I can't fork it over. Any suggestions? The company seems determined to force the issue over this 250 dollar amount..but to me it might as well be 2,500 dollars...I simply don't have it. We're actually in the red at the end of each month unless we get a windfall from something (like a garage sale) and I'm all saled out. We're practically sitting on boxes as it is.

I will NEVER use credit cards again, and my credit has already been damaged, anyway. What recourse do I have? Can I offer to pay smaller amounts in a monthly payment? Will the company have to accept them?

Thanks for listening

Fri, 08/28/2009 - 20:03 Permalink

Hi Lyn

can a credit card company garnish my retirement pension?

Usually credit card companies cannot garnish your retirement pension unless it is for child support or spouse support. However, also make sure that you do not put your retirement benefits in a savings account because savings accounts can be garnished irrespective of what money goes in there.

Sat, 08/29/2009 - 11:56 Permalink

Hi beverly

a credit card company put a judgement against me. if i sell my home will they get the money? i live in texas

Were you planning to sell your home already even before the judgment? Is this a mortgage loan you are talking about? If so, what I can understand is that you are thinking of a short sell are you?

Well, if that is the case then you will have to speak with your mortgage lender first. Even if you do sell your home you may not be able to get the full value of the loan. The deficit amount will still be owed by you and it will be your responsibility to pay it off.

However, I'd like to know your thoughts. What kind of loan is it and why you are thinking of selling your house.

Sat, 08/29/2009 - 12:02 Permalink

It all depends on what state you live in and what the laws are in that state as far as debt collection. Here in pennsylvania wages can only be garnished for back taxes and child support.

Sat, 08/29/2009 - 12:09 Permalink

Well RoseMarie

SS benefits and retirement benefits cannot be garnished unless you owe any money towards child support.

Sat, 08/29/2009 - 12:09 Permalink

Hi Guest

What recourse do I have? Can I offer to pay smaller amounts in a monthly payment? Will the company have to accept them?

Well, you could ask the creditor (s) for a loan modification. Maybe you could try and give them a better picture of the situation that you are in right now. I'm sure they will understand. Let them know that you are eager to pay off their debt and would request them to be a little co operative. Be patient with them and if the person you are speaking with now doesn't help, seek to speak to a senior (if possible).

Sat, 08/29/2009 - 12:16 Permalink
beverly (not verified)

my house is not for sale but i was wondering if i did sale it and i have a judgement against me for non payment of a credit card for 5,000. would they get the money out of my equity? it would not be a short sale.

Sat, 08/29/2009 - 16:08 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I'm the person who posted the original question. No, my husband and I have no intention of selling our home. I have since found out that in the state of NY where I live, a home can have a lien attached to it, but we are not forced to sell our home. If and when we do sell the home, the lien would come due..but by then I could have paid off the money owed.

As I stated above..the amount of money is small..and I'm perfectly happy to repay it, but I need payments I can manage. I'm actually thinking that I may just let this all go to court, and allow a judge to determine how much each payment is to be.

I don't understand why this company would be so eager to take this money amount to court, since it is so small. Surely they realize that if they work with me, they'll get their money so much sooner. We're talking a difference of a couple of hundred dollars as a first payment...which is unachievable for me, since we live virtually paycheck to paycheck, having only SSI, partial benefits from workman's compensation, and a job that pays me less than 100 dollars per month.

It's very frustrating. Very.

Sun, 08/30/2009 - 02:23 Permalink
Shaver (not verified)

I have a credit card company wanting to collect on a 11 yr old account that i believe i paid a settlement to about 5 yrs ago but have not found my proof what can i do

Mon, 08/31/2009 - 22:08 Permalink
michaeltexas man (not verified)

can a debt collector garnish my unemployment checks

Tue, 09/01/2009 - 15:15 Permalink
dee (not verified)

me and my mom have a joint checking account, she gets ssi and retirement funds direct deposit into the account, we can no longer afford to make the credit card payments, I called the bank we bank with, and explained that my mom's ssi benefits cannot be garnished, they stated that they could, I said they could not, she was protected undet section 207 of the ss act, they suggested we close the account and get an account for her only, my question is, I have another checking account with another bank, I was going to have all the deposits go there and then close the account after I get my mom her own account, that way, they could not garnish her money nowing it is only ssi and retirement, as for me, if I change to another bank, will they find out that account and try to garnish my funds?

Mon, 09/07/2009 - 00:19 Permalink
Mazy (not verified)

I have only ss & retirement to pay my credit card debt. I am 81 years old. What can they do to me?

Mon, 09/07/2009 - 00:55 Permalink
sliverhorse (not verified)

My husband and I draw social securty, And because of an long illness and no income before we received s.s We have a credit card debt of 13000. We have been paying on this now 10 yrs with very little progress. If we stopped paying would they get our car which is old or our mobile home which also is old but all we have to drive and live in.

Thu, 09/10/2009 - 05:03 Permalink
dee (not verified)

i am being sued for a check that i wrote out, this company claim i wrote the check in 2006. i don't even remember this, shouldn't they send me some kind of document proving this was me. shouldn't they allow me some time to pay something if it's mine instead of taking this to court. they asked me some questions on the phone and i answered, but not really remembering this. the guy got mad at me and hung up in my face while i was trying to make a reasonable arrangement i thought.

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 21:30 Permalink
dannyjoe (not verified)

My mother has over 50k in bed credit card debt, she doesn’t work and her only income is SS. One credit card company capitol one bank, filed a complaint in our local courthouse and serviced her with a notice to file an answer to the complaint at the courthouse which we did explaining that the only income received is SSI. About a week later the attn for cap 1 sent motion for judgment on the pleading pursuant to rule 12 (c) A.R.C.P and a notice of disclosure statement. on the last page of the motion for judgment papers it states this matter having been regularly presented, IT IS ORDERED plaintiff is granted judgment on the pleadings against defendant, NAME, and then lists the principal, deductions, accrued interest thru 09/01/09 at %10 accrued costs thru day of judgment, reasonable attn fees and a total judgment figure , but where it is to be dated at the bottom it is blank and where the justice of the peace is to sign it is also blank!

they claim that in this case defendant does not deny the debt owed to plantiff, but merely states the defendant does not have the money to pay the entire debt

It goes on to say that since defendant doesn’t deny liability for the debt owed as required by rule 8(e) supra., plaintiff requests the judgment be entered into the plaintiffs favor. This and other pages are stamped with the attorney’s name.

No where does it mention that the answer sent to them and filed with the court states that the only income received is SSI.

Can they get a judgment without a hearing with my mother present? All I read everywhere is they can not garnish her SSI! That is all the income she has period! If they get the judgment what are legal ramifications facing my mother as again her income is SSI!

I thought are answer explaining that she only receives SSI would stop these legal matters.
When we filed the answer in the courthouse they told us we would get a hearing date in the mail but all we have gotten is this. Nothing from the court only from the plaintiff’s attn

the apartment my mom stays in is in my name and so are all her bills (elect, cable, gas, h2o) she pays these out of her checking account and its the only account she has, which only source of funding is ssi and the occasional deposit I put in to help her. Can they debit this account, I have read all the posts and I take that they cannot, but we should let the bank know that the only funds coming in are form ssi., correct?
Sorry for the long post but I the letters look very intimidating even though they creditor attorneys know via the answer that the only income she has is SSI!

I myself could afford to pay this debt for her but I know I am not at al liable for it, and feel if I did this then the rest of the credit card companies would start coming after her as well? Would they not?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and any help you can give us ion the matter.

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 01:45 Permalink

Ok heres what I got...I have a Garnishment that was taken out of my bank about 3 months ago. It's for a rental place that my wife and I got out of in 2004. I have been paying them 150.00 a month on a regular basis I owe them 2100.00. My question is I had to close that account out, and I am with another bank but the last time I paid them was with a money order because I didn't want them to have my account number. I am again out of work they will not work with me. Will they be able to take money out of my new account that is with a totally diffrent bank that they do not have the account number with. That is my question.
Thanks George

Mon, 09/14/2009 - 17:31 Permalink
NANA PERPLEXED (not verified)


Tue, 09/22/2009 - 07:48 Permalink
Bette (not verified)

I only receive SS, I own no property and have no car. I owe 3 cc companies. I cannot make ends meet. Should I file bankrupcy or send a letter to them and make arrangements or? Will my other cc company that I have no balance withdraw their card?

Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:15 Permalink
ginny (not verified)

I have been trying to settle my credit card debt. i've already closed down most of the accounts and agreed to pay each month by bank draft. now i find out that my husbands health insurance is going up so high that i will have to help pay on that bill and i can no longer pay what i agreed to. if i just stop all payments can they do anything to me? my only income is social security disability. the debt is only mine. i do not own a home. my husband and i have two older cars not worth much. no money in the bank. his income is below poverty level.

Tue, 09/22/2009 - 17:35 Permalink
brian johnson (not verified)

i am a retired office worker living in another country collecting ss and pension which are directly deposited into my u.s bank account. this is the only money going into this account. i have some outstanding credit card debt over one year old. do i need to notify my bank in case these credit card companies try to attach my bank account? also this is a difficult question, can my step child who i know is eligible to collect ss because of me, she is under 18 do so if i am owing credit card debt?

Wed, 09/23/2009 - 21:45 Permalink


If you cannot make payment on yoru motorhome, then they can reposess your motor home

you cannot escape that

Thu, 09/24/2009 - 05:09 Permalink
cheech (not verified)

My mom ss check is deposit in joint saving account in my bank. c
Can the garish the account

Thu, 10/01/2009 - 00:33 Permalink
Mickey B (not verified)

In 3 weeks I will be 63 years old. I work for the State of Nevada. I am eligible for S.S. and retirement. Due to the economy I have had a reduction in pay ( furloughs ). I just want to pull the plug and retire. I have substantial CC debt, some medical debt, and I have a Motor-home financed. There's no way I can pay my debt with my SS and retirement. Can the CC company's and the lender on the motor home come after me for this debt. I will have no money, just my retirement and SS. Will they garnish this income. Thanks for your time.

Thu, 10/01/2009 - 20:53 Permalink

Please make sure tonotify the bank about the deposit comign in to your account

Tell them that this is yoru social security incoe,so they canstop any one trying to get that money except you

Sun, 10/04/2009 - 18:31 Permalink
dillard (not verified)

I have debt and disable I have a checking acount all that goes into it is my disabilty check. my mother also has a checking acount
in her name with my name as power of attorny should i get my
name off of the acount

Sat, 10/10/2009 - 20:27 Permalink
bartonc (not verified)

can a credit card company take me car to settle an outstanding debt..or take things from my house?

Sun, 10/11/2009 - 18:01 Permalink
mcondoleo (not verified)

Can a credit card company freeze my joint bank account with my husband? I am also the custodian for my child's bank account. Can they freeze that account, too?

Sun, 10/18/2009 - 18:47 Permalink
DAN (not verified)


Mon, 10/19/2009 - 07:49 Permalink
Michael83 (not verified)

if i die, can a creditor go after my life insurance - thanks

Wed, 10/21/2009 - 21:17 Permalink
Dee (not verified)

My husband had 2 Heart attacks in Feb. we both are 69 we have had no work and I could see that I couldn't pay 3 of my credit cards from the same company. I called before I became late and told them the situation and that I could not make arrangement for payments as all we had was SS coming in. I told them if it changed I would call and pay but nothing has changed except I get calls all day long. I got a letter saying they could sue if I didn't pay in full or make arrangements (which I cannot do) I have told them my story many times. All the cards are in my name with my husband as an extra card holder. Can they do anything to us.

Fri, 10/23/2009 - 21:16 Permalink
paula (not verified)

I owe about $30,000 on credit cards due to dental implant work. I am now unemployed and cannot pay. Really worried about the consequences. I am married and on Social Security. These cards are in my name only. Help!

Mon, 10/26/2009 - 22:40 Permalink
Kathy Rosen (not verified)

A judgement was recently put on me for an investment property I purchased a couple years ago...I can no longer pay it and was asked by the Banks attorney to fill out paper work for my assets car ownership etc...Now the attorney wants to deposition me..
Since last week the Bank has gone under...Will the attorney now lay off because they are under investigation by the FDIC and no longer in business...

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 04:30 Permalink

Hello Kathy,
he bank may lay off callking you but even if they do this debt will probaly be transferred to another lender and sooner or later you may be held accountable for it. Has the investment property been sold? I know the market is not its best and many end up losing money but this could be an option.
Now as for the atty make sure you ask him if he does contact you if they still have the legal right to to pursue the debt. You may also want to contact your atty general who can give you more specific advice to this issue. You can find the phone number on your state's web page.

Wed, 10/28/2009 - 10:06 Permalink
Cailly (not verified)

Hi, I know I posted this elsewhere but I cant get it to come up. This placeseems to be the right place to ask the question...

My only income is from Social Security Disability Retirement, child support and an Police Officer Industrial-Disability retirement. I saw somewhere once a letter you could send to your banks informing them that your income is exempt from Judgments, but now I cant find it. ( I am in California). Does anyone know how I go about protecting my bank accounts from attachment? I have not been served any summons, but I had fraud years ago and I know the SOL is appoarching...

Thanks in advance

Fri, 10/30/2009 - 22:11 Permalink
Susan (not verified)

I am unemployed and working out a payment plan with a credit card company. Am I required to tell them about income I receive from court ordered maintenance?

Wed, 11/04/2009 - 16:11 Permalink
tom grove (not verified)

I have a judgement against me on a credit card i cannot cash a check anywhere is this legal

Tue, 11/10/2009 - 17:42 Permalink
Brenda (not verified)

I have caller ID and when I got home tonight, I had 3 phone calls from Reno, Nevada from First National Collection Agency. I have no idea why they are calling me as I don't owe anything that I'm behind on. I just have one credit card and two houses and one of the houses is paid for. Do you think this is a scam? By the way, I just got my phone number a couple of months ago when I switched from ATT to Comcast. My number is unlisted.

However, about a month ago someone from NCO called my office looking for someone with my same name for a student loan that was 41 years old. They had the wrong SSN so my employer told them they had the wrong person. Well a couple of weeks later, they called back and asked to speak to the office manager. This time they told her I was applying for credit and they needed to verify employment. She gave them my SSN and all of my information. Now this past Monday I received a letter that they are tryhing to garnish my wages and they have substituted the other SSN with mine. I called them and pointed this out and they said it was up to me to prove that I wasn't using two SSN's and that I would have to come up with my dad's old checks to prove he paid for my education. The name is the same as mine but it is a common name, but the SSN isn't mine. Anyway my dad has been dead for over 20 years and I have no such supporting documents. NCO claims they are working on behalf of the Dept. of Education. Is it legal for them to switch SSN's on an account. They told me that the Fair Debt Act does not apply to student loans and that I would have to pay the original debt of $2000 plus $11,000 in interest and collection fees. I'm about to have a nervous breakdown as I don't have any extra money and I didn't know anything about this debt. They haven't sent me any documents yet to verifiy the debt but they have already requested information from my boss on garnishment. What in the world should I do???

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 05:13 Permalink

Hi Brenda

I'm really sorry to hear about the situation you are in right now. There are scam companies all over and they have spread deeply. But don't be frightened, these people need to be handled firmly.

Anyway, for all the debts that you are aware of and have been paid, do you have the documents (apart from the one's your dad paid for)? First check with yourself if you have all documents in place (just to be on the safe side). Now, about the debt that they are talking about, ask them to validate the debt. If they still do bring a judgment against you somehow, you can vacate the judgment at court. First send the DV letter. You can find one right here in this site

Thu, 11/12/2009 - 06:39 Permalink

First and foremost thing is that you need to ask this collection agency to validate the debt. So, you need to be prepared to face this situation.

Tell your employer about this whole story and ask them to co-operate you in this case. I think there should be some recording of the previous phone calls; it will act in your favor.

Do not loose your enthusiasm

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 06:45 Permalink
wilsonH (not verified)


Fri, 11/13/2009 - 19:33 Permalink
Ric (not verified)

My wife and I live off my military retirement. We are currently helping my wife's parents and the up keep of their farm. When I was working, I took out two store credit cards to help my son start his business. However, the business has failed and he is currently looking for employment and can't make the payments for those credit cards. I know they are in my name, but we can't make the payments for those two cards. If the payments are not met, can they garnish my retirement?

Fri, 11/13/2009 - 20:02 Permalink
Elaine (not verified)

My mother, who is 83 and has alzheimer's, owns no property. She has a old debt from a credit card co. and they keep calling her and stating they are going to take her social security earnings. She does not know what they are talking about(alzheimer's) and I would like to know if they can take her social security earnings. This is her only income.

Sat, 11/14/2009 - 18:50 Permalink
SHELBY JEAN (not verified)


Tue, 11/17/2009 - 06:40 Permalink
bill (not verified)

My only income is social security and i received a summons due to a charge card do i need to respond to this if so is there a sample response available

Wed, 11/18/2009 - 00:04 Permalink
Debra (not verified)

we have filed for bankrupsey, our lawyer says we need to put our social security checks in a saving account and have the retirement check put in a checking account, but as I understand it neither one of these can be attached in the bandrupsey is this correct?

Wed, 11/18/2009 - 16:27 Permalink
Debbie (not verified)

My elderly parents are on a fixed social security income and the only debt he owes is a credit card payment. They both have suffered broken bones and major surgeries recently and cannot pay the credit card. The interest rate is 29% and he had been paying for years on this credit card and little principle has been reduced. The only charge on the account if for Credit protection plan insurance of $105 a month. He can not continue to pay this now that he has no income other than SSI. What is his option?

Thu, 11/19/2009 - 15:37 Permalink
Emely (not verified)

I took advantage of buying personal things like a tv and food and a sum for paying off a personal loan. The card was meant for business. Do I have to pay tax on this as income . I get 800 ss.

Fri, 11/20/2009 - 04:56 Permalink