Can Social Security Benefits Be Garnished to Pay Medical Bills?

Are you trying to figure out if your Social Security benefits can be garnished to pay off your medical bills and other debts? And what types of debts can lead to such a situation? What are the exceptions to this rule? Don’t worry, we have got you covered! This article will provide a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances under which your Social Security benefits can be garnished to pay medical bills.

Understanding Garnishment

Garnishment is a legal process that allows creditors to collect debts directly from your income or bank accounts. For example, if someone owes child support, their employer may be required to withhold a portion of their wages to pay off the debt. But what happens when your income comes from Social Security? Let’s explore.

Can Social Security Be Garnished for Medical Bills?

In most cases, Social Security cannot be garnished to pay off debts such as credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans. However, if a creditor obtains a court order, they may be able to take money from your bank account.

Protection for Direct Deposits

If your Social Security benefits are directly deposited into your bank account, the bank is required to protect these funds from garnishment. For instance, if a creditor attempts to freeze your bank account, the bank must review your previous two months of transactions to determine if you received any Social Security benefits. If you receive $1,500 a month in Social Security, the bank must allow you to use up to $3,000 in your account.

Can My Social Security Be Garnished for Tax Debt?

Yes, there are certain types of debts for which your Social Security can be garnished. These include federal taxes, federal student loans, child support and alimony, victim restitution, and other federal debts.

Debt Specifics

Type of DebtPercentage of Social Security Garnished
Federal Taxes15% of your Social Security check
Student Loans and Other Non-Tax Debts15% of your Social Security check, as long as the remaining balance doesn’t drop below $750
Child Support and AlimonyUp to 50% if you support another child, 60% if you don’t support another child, or 65% if the support is more than 12 weeks in arrears.

It’s important to note that if you have other streams of income, these are not necessarily exempt from garnishment just because you qualify for SSDI.

How Can You Stop Garnishment?

While your SSDI cannot be garnished for typical consumer debts, if you have a garnishment for one of the other listed categories, it can be hard to make ends meet. Here are a few options to stop SSDI garnishment:

  • Negotiate: You can negotiate with the IRS for tax arrears.
  • Pay Debt In Full: The most straightforward way to stop SSDI garnishment is to fully pay off your debt.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Texas a no-garnishment state?

In Texas, wage garnishment is prohibited by the Texas Constitution except for child support, spousal support, student loans, or unpaid taxes. Ordinary debts cannot lead to your wages being garnished. However, Texas does permit the freezing of bank accounts. Once your wages are deposited into your bank account, the funds can be frozen and potentially seized. For this to happen, a debt collector must have won the lawsuit and received an order from the court. Despite the order being called a “writ of garnishment,” it cannot be used to take incoming wages.

2. Can credit cards garnish wages in Florida?

Yes, in Florida, consumer creditors including those for credit card debts, medical bills, personal loans, car loans, etc. that have won a court judgment can garnish your wages. If the debt has been passed on to a debt collector or debt buyer, they too can win a court judgment to garnish your wages. Certain creditors can garnish your wages in Florida without a court judgment. These include the IRS and state taxing authorities, federal student loan servicers, parents collecting past-due domestic support obligations such as child support and alimony, and federal government agencies like the Small Business Administration.

3. What is the law for garnishment in Indiana?

In Indiana, the law largely adheres to federal wage garnishment limits, with a slight difference. Creditors can garnish less than 25% of your disposable earnings or the amount that exceeds 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage in a given workweek. If you can demonstrate a valid reason for the amount to be reduced to less than 25%, the garnishment amount could be less, provided it is at least 10% of your disposable earnings.

4. What are the laws governing the garnishment of Social Security?

The laws governing the garnishment of Social Security benefits are primarily outlined in the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. Generally, Social Security benefits are exempt from garnishment for consumer debts, such as credit cards and medical bills. However, benefits can be garnished for specific obligations like child support, alimony, and federal taxes. The rules may vary depending on the state you reside in.

5. How to file an exemption for wage garnishment?

To file an exemption for wage garnishment, you may need to follow these steps:

  • Obtain the necessary exemption forms from your local court or online.
  • Complete the forms with accurate and relevant information.
  • File the completed forms with the court that issued the garnishment order.
  • Attend any required hearings or provide additional documentation, if requested by the court.
  • Await the court’s decision on the exemption request.


While it’s true that Social Security benefits can be garnished for certain types of debts, protections are in place to ensure recipients are not left destitute. Understanding these rules can help you navigate your financial future with confidence. Remember, it’s always best to seek professional advice when dealing with complex issues like debt and Social Security.

Disclaimer: This information is for general understanding and does not constitute legal advice. If you are facing garnishment issues, it’s crucial to consult a qualified attorney to get personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances.


More Posts

Send Us A Message