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Can my creditors garnish my disability benefits?

Social Security disability benefits are available to assist disabled individuals when they cannot work or support themselves financially. Because these benefits only provide enough funds to help meet a person’s basic needs, some SSD recipients end up getting into debt.

If the debt is serious enough, these individuals may wonder if their SSD benefits can be garnished by creditors like other types of income can be.

The good news is that Social Security disability benefits cannot be garnished by most creditors. However, it is possible for the government to garnish disability benefits depending on the type of benefits a person receives and the kind of debt they are facing.

First, Supplemental Security Income cannot be garnished by any creditors, including the government. SSI is available to individuals who are disabled, blind or elderly, and meet minimum income and asset restrictions.

On the other hand, Social Security Disability Insurance can potentially be garnished by the government in cases involving unpaid taxes, unpaid child support, federal student loan debt and overpayments from government agencies.

SSDI is available to workers who have paid into the Social Security system and can no longer work because of a disabling injury or condition.

Unfortunately, creditors have been known to improperly garnish both kinds of Social Security Disability benefits and it can be a pain to get the money back.

That’s why it’s recommended to not co-mingle SSD funds with other income or assets. Preventing the SSD benefits from being garnished in the first place is much easier than trying to get the funds back.

Source: Credit.com, "Can a Debt Collector Come After My Social Security?" Gerri Detweiler, May 23, 2014

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