If receiving Social Security, most debt, except that owed to the federal government or in other special cases, cannot be collected by garnishing Social Security benefits. This is established in Section 207 of the Social Security Act.
Overview of Section 207 of the Social Security Act
This law prevents garnishments and levies on benefits received from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If a creditor attempts to garnish benefits, it would be considered a violation of this law.
Creditors looking for the payment of debt such as medical bills or credit cards should assess Social Security benefits. There are other ways this type of debt can be collected. In some cases, an account may be frozen, which can prevent access to funds while the account is frozen.
However, this can get complicated when benefit payments from SSA are deposited into an account where other funds are placed. This can be hard to avoid in some cases because many SSA benefits are required to be deposited electronically. An option might be to separate Social Security income and other funds into different accounts.
Dealing with Garnishment of Accounts Containing Social Security Income
If an account containing benefits from Social Security is frozen to collect debts, the beneficiary should contact the bank and the creditor to inform them that Social Security benefits are in the account, and it’s a violation of Section 207 of the Social Security Act to take them. This may require evidence of payments being directly deposited into the account.
Unfortunately, SSA cannot get involved in disputes regarding creditors. So it’s up to the beneficiary to refer to Section 207 of the Social Security Act when there is a violation. This may also require seeking legal advice from an attorney, such as at Brent Adams & Associates, who handles cases involving Social Security and debt collection.