In most cases, bill collectors cannot garnish your disability benefits. There are a few exceptions — including back taxes and unpaid child support — when it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments, but your Supplemental Security Income benefits should remain protected.
If your Pittsburgh bank freezes all your assets including disability payments, you may want to call Social Security.
Federal Regulations Usually Protect Disability Payments From Creditors
Federal regulations require all U.S. banks to protect your Social Security disability payments and other federal benefits from creditors. This prevents freezing or garnishment of disability benefits that come into your account via direct deposit even if a private creditor gets a verdict against you.
Any time a creditor takes steps to garnish your income or freeze your bank account, your bank has a responsibility to protect an amount equal to at least your last two months’ worth of disability deposits. This money must remain available to you. If additional disability income is in the frozen portion or the creditor garnished part of your disability income, call Social Security.
Disability Benefits Paid By Check
These federal protections apply only to direct deposits and payments to Direct Express® cards. If you receive a paper check and then make the deposit on your own, your bank may not be able to identify these deposits and protect them from garnishment or a bank freeze.
Exceptions to Garnishment Exemptions for Disability Payments
In some rare cases, a bill collector can garnish your disability benefits to repay certain debts. In general, this involves cases where you owe money to the federal government or because of a previous court verdict. Some debts that may allow the creditors to garnish SSDI payments include:
- Federal back taxes
- Federal student loans
- Child support and alimony
- Victim restitution following a criminal conviction
- Any other debts you owe the federal government
Note: In some cases, primarily child support and alimony, the government may deduct your owed amount before it deposits any payments into your account. This is the same thing that happens when you receive income from a job and the government garnishes your wages.
None of these exceptions apply to Supplemental Security Income. There are very few cases when any creditor — including the federal government — can garnish SSI payments.
Take Action Today to Protect Your Social Security Disability Benefits
Often, you will receive a garnishment notice before a creditor takes a portion of your income or freezes your bank account. If this happens to you and you have funds from Social Security disability in your bank account, we encourage you to call Social Security as soon as possible. It is crucial you follow the instructions included with the garnishment notice.
There are often tight deadlines for notifying the court you have funds in your account that are exempt from garnishment. Meeting these deadlines is paramount for ensuring continued access to your money.
If you learned a creditor garnished your wages or froze your account without sending you a notice, contact Social Security as quickly as possible. We know this money is key in paying your bills and feeding your family.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Attorney in Pittsburgh Today
If a bill collector is attempting to garnish your disability benefits or freeze your bank account, call Social Security immediately. If you need to apply for Social Security Disability or SSI or appeal a denial, call Berger and Green.
Call our team today at 412-661-1400 for a case review and to get started today. The review is free and there is no obligation.