Can a creditor take money from my disability check?

UPDATED: Jun 17, 2011

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Can a creditor take money from my disability check?

For a credit card debt. Wife died left me alone. Now I have to pay it all and I don’t have the money. Turned over to an attorney to collect.

Asked on June 17, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Most disability payments, SSD for example, are what is known as "exempt" funds. This means that they cannot be garnished by a creditor. It used to be that a creditor could freeze your bank account in an attempt to get them. If you did not object within a specified timeframe then the money would in fact be paid over by your bank even though they were otherwise exempt.  But this is no longer the case. As a result of recent legislation, if exempt funds are paid into an account via direct deposit, they cannot be frozen in your account (although other non-exempt money can be). So as long as you have direct deposit (you do not deposit a check), your creditor cannot garnish your disability payments.

Note: Only 2 months worth of benefits are protected and don't transfer benefits to another account or else the protection is void.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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