Can any portion of unemployment wages be garnished?

I won small claims court and will likely need to file for garnishment of wages. Unfortunately the defendant is still unemployed but I believe is collecting about $650 in unemployment wages a month. Could I garnish any portion of this amount? Is there a cap after a certain amount that can be garnished?

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

While wage garnishment may be the most familiar type of garnishment, it’s not the only kind. A garnishment can apply to any income. For example, pension benefits, rental income, payments from insurance proceeds, alimony, and various types of public assistance are all potentially subject to garnishment; at least to the extent they are not made exempt (legally protected). For example, unemployment compensation can be garnished for back child support or alimony but for a debt to a general creditor.

So unless you are suing for such back support or alimony, unfortunately your debtor's unemployment benefits are all legally protected; there is no applicable cap for such income.

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