Can a creditor garnish my checking account of social security which is automatically deposted into my checking account monthly?

Should I close my checking account to prevent garnishment of my sole income of social security by a creditor who has served me with summons on July 1, with answer due in 20 days?

Asked on July 3, 2009 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Assuming a valid judgement, your creditors can't touch your social security  - even if it is in a bank account.

Federal law says that many federal benefit payments like Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, Veteran’s benefits, and Railroad Retirement benefits are not subject to garnishment.  This means that these funds are exempt and you may be able to stop your creditors from taking these exempt funds from your bank account.  However, there are some exceptions.  For example, your Veteran’s benefits, Social Security, or other government benefits may be garnished to pay delinquent child support, alimony, federal taxes, or other specific kinds of debt.

The types of state benefits subject to garnishment and those that are exempt vary from state to state.  You may want to contact an attorney or the consumer protection bureau in your state for more information.

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Your creditor can't touch your checking account until he has a judgment.  Social security payments themselves can't be garnished, unlike wages;  once the judgment is entered, the creditor could only attach the money in the account at a particular time, and that process would have to be repeated each time they wanted to get money from your account.  You should talk to a lawyer in your area, for the details of how this process would work in your case.


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