Can Social Security Be Garnisheed?

By: Robert J. Nahoum

A man in suit and tie with his arms crossed.


You are retired or maybe you got hurt on the job and your only source of income is social security or other government benefits.  You fell behind on bills and used the credit cards to make up the difference.  You could no longer make the minimum payments and now the creditors have sued you.  If the creditors get a judgment against you, can they garnishee your social security?


In New York, as in most states, there are categories of property that is exempt from judgment enforcement and thus beyond the reach of debt collectors.  Included in those exemptions are the following:

  • Public Assistance;
  • Supplemental Security Income;
  • Social Security;
  • Social Security Disability;
  • Veterans benefits;
  • Child Support;
  • Spousal Maintenance;
  • Workers Compensation;
  • Unemployment Insurance.

Not only that, if you’ve had these benefits deposited into your bank account, the debt collector is also precluded from freezing those funds.  A judgment creditor may not freeze funds in your bank account if the balance is less than $2,625.00 and the account contains directly deposited exempt benefits; and funds in your bank account if the balance is less than $1,740.00.


Federal debt collection laws called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), regulates the collection of consumer debts.  The FDCPA precludes third party debt collectors from using false, misleading, deceptive and harassing debt collection tactics.  Threatening to take action that cannot be legally taken is a violation of the FDCPA. If a debt collector threatens to garnishee your social security you should speak with a consumer protection attorney experienced in the FDCPA.

If a debt collector violates the FDCPA, you can sue for statutory damages up to $1,000.00 plus actual damages (like pain and suffering) and your attorney’s fees.

If you need help settling or defending a debt collection law suit, filing for bankruptcy, stopping harassing debt collectors or suing a debt collector, contact us today to see what we can do for you.  With office located in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Rockland County, the Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum defends consumers in debt collection cases throughout the Tristate area including New Jersey.

The Law Offices of Robert J. Nahoum, P.C
(845) 232-0202

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