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When can your SSDI benefits be garnished?

If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you likely depend on this money to pay for housing, food, medical care and other necessities. However, did you know that in some cases, your payments can be garnished to pay the money you owe?

Social Security benefits (with the exception of Supplemental Security Income), can be garnished if you are delinquent on or have failed to pay any the following:

  • Court-ordered child and spousal support
  • Federal taxes
  • Federal student loans
  • Federally funded home loans
  • Court-ordered restitution to victims of a crime

There are limits to what percentage of your benefits can be garnished. These vary by the type of debt.

For example, for support payments, up to 50% can be garnished if you’re providing support for another child or spouse (who’s not part of the order) and up to 60% if you are not. If you are behind by at least 12 weeks, another 5% can be garnished.

For back taxes and student loans, the government typically can’t garnish more than 15% of your monthly benefit. However, student loan garnishments can’t leave a recipient with under $750 in monthly benefits.

If you believe a garnishment is a mistake, you need to contact the government entity or court that initiated it. The Social Security Administration won’t be able to do anything without direction from the court. If you have a disability that leaves you unable to work, you may be able to get your student loan discharged.

The good news is that federal law prohibits the garnishment of Social Security benefits for any type of private debt, such as medical bills, credit card debt and other non-government loans. That doesn’t mean that a company may not try to illegally garnish your payments.

Obtaining SSDI payments can be a difficult process. Find out how an attorney can help you obtain what you are rightfully due and learn more about how to protect your funds after you do receive them.

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