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Certain accounts or income may not be subject to seizure by debt collectors.

What is Judgment Proof? Can collectors garnish my disability payments?

Judgment Proof:
You may be considered “Judgment Proof” during periods of unemployment or while drawing disability pay or disability retired pay. Also, if you have no assets such as home, car, land, and other big-ticket items. In other words, you have no money and can prove it!

Never ignore a lawsuit or court appearance notice just because you are broke or have no assets! If a debt collector or creditor is trying to sue and you believe that you are judgment proof, you must respond to the lawsuit as such. Failure to appear and show the judge why you are judgment proof opens the door for the judge to grant the collector a Default Judgments. Even though they cannot collect anything from you now, they can wait many years and try again. Also, the judgment will show up on your credit report.

Special Note: Judgment-proof is the commonly used term but a more accurate term would be “execution-proof”! Although creditors and debt collectors win lawsuits, they still have to collect thus, if you are penniless you are insulated not from judgment but from execution (collection of the debt – at least temporarily). If you lose your “judgment proof” status due to new employment, the creditor or collector can seek a judgment and ask for a garnishment of wages up to 25% of your disposable income (in some states it’s less). Once you’re employed again, it’s better to negotiate a reduced payoff rather than risk a court-ordered judgment. The difference is your credit report will show “debt settled” instead of the more negative “judgment”!

Disability Payments In most states, state paid disability and private disability insurance payments are exempt from garnishment. The exceptions are generally for current and back child support payments and taxes. Most retired disability is exempt. The best thing to do is call your state attorney general’s consumer protection division and ask. Attorney General web sites

Social Security and Garnishment:
Generally, Social Security benefits are exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or from the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law. The following benefits are exceptions and subject to garnishment:

(1) to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to make levies for the collection of delinquent Federal taxes and under certain circumstances delinquent child support payments; and

(2) to garnishment or similar legal process brought by an individual to enforce a child support or alimony obligation. Section 207 of the Social Security Act provides: “The right of any person to any future payment under this title shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.”

However, section 6331 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (26 U.S.C. 6331) which was enacted into law on August 16, 1954, after the enactment of section 207, gives the Secretary of the Treasury the right to levy or seize for collection of delinquent Federal taxes, property, rights to property, whether real or personal, tangible, or intangible and the right to make successive levies and seizures until the amount due, together with all expenses, is fully paid. References: SSR 79-4: SECTIONS 207, 452(b), 459 and 462(f) (42 U.S.C. 407, 652(b), 659 and 662(f)) LEVY AND GARNISHMENT OF BENEFITS 20 CFR 404.970 SSR 79-4 See the code here

Special Note: According to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website, the SSA recently changed it’s rules to allow the collection of overdue Program and Administrative Debts using Administrative Wage Garnishment! The regulations dealing with the collection of program overpayment debts that arise under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act) and administrative debts owed to the SSA have been modified. Specifically, the change establishes new regulations on the use of administrative wage garnishment (AWG) to collect such debts when they are past due.

AWG is a process whereby the SSA orders the debtor’s employer to withhold and pay the SSA up to 15 percent of the debtor’s disposable pay every payday until the debt is repaid. The employer is required by law to comply with the AWG order. These new rules are effective January 22, 2004. (References: SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 20 CFR Parts 404, 416 and 422 RIN 0960-AE92 Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income

If you believe you are a victim of unfair or illegal debt collection tactics, submit your information to a FREE* Fair Debt Lawyer by:

The debt collector may just be liable to you for statutory damages of up to $1,000, plus any actual damages suffered, plus attorney fees!

confidential informationThere may be instances where discussing your situation over a public forum could potentially compromise your interests. On these occasions we will contact you directly via email in order to answer your inquiry in a confidential manner.


  1. I’ve been on disability for 2 years and it is permanent. should i still file for bankruptcy or do i not have to pay because of my disability/lack of money?


    • Chances are bankruptcy is a bad idea as “blood cannot be gotten from a stone.”

      As a rule, your SSDI cannot be touched by creditors. The only way around this strict rule is if you commingle (mix) your SSDI (exempt moneys) with non-exempt moneys (for example, your spouse’s paycheck) in one bank account. So the best thing to do when you are on SSDI is keep all that money in one bank account, and only have that money go into that account.

      Now for assets other than SSDI, it depends on what you have and the laws of your state. You can get a free debt help consultation by calling 888-595-9111 or clicking here for a free case review.

  2. My mother is 84 years olds. Over the past two years she has lost significate income. She only relys on her SSI, she owns no property but she has about $5 – 6K in debt that she just don’t have to pay. Debt collector are calling and sending letters.

    What can she become collection proof or what can she do?

    • If your mom relies on SSDI as her only source of income, owns no property and has no real assets, she is basically judgment proof already. Often, just explaining to the collector a situation like this will suffice to cease collections, BUT no one should be harassing an 84 year old woman regardless as the collection company undoubtedly knows your mom’s age. You should likely consult a Debt Help Lawyer, you can call 888-595-9111 now or submit an inquiry and get a free case review here, I bet your mom has rights under the FDCPA and possibly the TCPA that are being violated. If I’m right, she may be entitled to several thousand dollars under these laws.

  3. Cameron Patrick Hanson

    I live on SSDisab. and I have a small minimum wage job. I was divorced in Dec. 2013. We had a car which my wife took. She stopped making payments and the car was repossessed and sold. The lender is after me for the balance of $6000. What is my situation? She took the car as part of the settlement. Thank you

    • Whether you are liable for your ex-wife’s car will be decided by reference to your State’s community property laws and whether you co-signed on the purchase — your divorce decree is a private agreement only, enforceable against each other (so in theory, you can pursue your ex for anything you have to pay for the debt).

      As for actually being collected on over this debt, the debt collector cannot garnish or attach your SSDI. However, the wages you earn from your small minimum are subject to seizure, and if you commingle (mix) the SSDI and the earnings from the minimum wage job in the same bank account, the exempt SSDI moneys can be taken.

      I think you would benefit from a more thorough legal analysis by the Debt Help Lawyers at this site. They may be able to facilitate a lower settlement through the debt settlement process and/or may be able to uncover some violations of your rights under ten “must know” consumer protection laws. Free, no obligation consultation. Call 888-595-9111 or submit online.

  4. ss took my & my husband’s fed tax return saying it was taken for overpaid child death benefits to me from my father’s death over 36y ago (I was not). There was no validation notice or any prior notice from them re: this debt other than the letter from IRS stating “the agency” was taking our return. Any correspondence they’ve sent was to an address I lived at over 31yr ago for only a few months, in their correspondence they include my my father’s ss #s and name etc making it easy for identity theft! They sent the IRS letter to my current home address 3/28/14. I filed for a detailed explanation beg of April and a request for reconsideration w/SS. 4 days after they took our return Carolyn Colvin repealed & ceased collections due to unfair collection practices and being beyond the 10y statute of limitations. Yet it’s been over 6months and I’ve heard nothing and haven’t received the return of my monies. I need this money desperately for my family. Please advise!

  5. Getting a divorce of a marriage of our er 20 years. There are many debts . Medical bills some in my name, old utility bills, a repo , and miscellaneous others. He works full time . I have been on ssdi since approximately 1998, what will I be responsible for? And would I need an attorney ? Coming up with attorney fees are hard. Thanks

    • The answer depends on a lot of factors, including your divorce decree. But as a general rule, your SSDI income is exempt provided you do not commingle (mix) it with other funds. As for an attorney, we don’t practice family law but most of our debt and credit services are at no cost to consumers, and the case review and consultation is always free and without obligation. Call us at 888-595-9111 now and let us get started helping you!

  6. I am being sued for a very old credit card debt. I am permanetly disabled and receive disability benefits as well as state funding, energy assistance, food stamps, section 8 housing,etc. I am considered “Judgement Proof”. In the last 4 years I did get a credit card. Is it possible I may be asked to repay this old credit card debt with my new credit card?? Please let me know & a big thanks!!

    • Consumers do have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) Take advantage of this site’s FREE, no obligation case review and let’s figure out how to get you some real help, you may be entitled to $1,000 or more! Make the collector follow the law or pay you, call us at 888-595-9111 and we’ll get you taken care of.

  7. rusty whittenbarger

    I am disabled since 2011. I have accumulated some very substantial Dr. Bills I in no way can pay what is owed. I am pounded daily by my cell phone from attorney’s, hospitals, collection agencies, my credit history has really taken a hit. My score had dropped greatly. I haven’t owed money for many years, until purchasing my house in 2011. What can I do stop the harassment. The disease I have when I get upset triggers a my acute idiopathic utacaria. Life turns to complete HELL please help. Thank you.

    • You may have experienced a Fair Debt violation(s), the Debt Help Lawyers at this site can provide you a free, no obligation Fair Debt consultation. Give us a call and let’s figure out how to get you some real help, you may be entitled to $1,000 or more! Additionally, you may also benefit from re-prioritizing your debt through debt settlement by resolving these old account for less than what is owed, call us at 888-595-9111 and we’ll get you taken care of.

  8. I have a judgment against me, will my wife personal assets get seized too, such as personal car, personal bank account, personal jewelry? We live in northern California

  9. i live in Worcester massachusetts and on ssdi im being sued by a credit card company for 3,400 can they garnish my wages or touch my husbands ssi when I am the one being sued

  10. If I am receiving social security disability and I get a judgement against me in small claims court, can they seize my wife’s car? It is only worth about $10,000. I also live in michigan

  11. I owe $10,000 in over payment with the unemployment benefits but I am on ssi. I do not owe anything. What do I do since i’m on a fixed income

  12. I owe about 2350 to an collection agency for my Dad’s funeral that took place in 2000. I have only been paying $30 a month for a few years, because it was with the actual funeral place first. I can’t remember what I was paying back then. Now I have a wage garnishment against me. We have a bank account with the only automatic deposit from SSI for my husband. I get EDD benefits and want to deposit this in the bank. We are trying to save our home in signing up with the Keep Your Home California program. Our two sons wil be helping us with the income part. This program says our boy’s can give us cash to deposit in our account. Though our bills and some of their bills will still have to be paid from these deposits, because it is still their money. Can this judgment be delayed un till we finish this program. We’re hoping that we can use this program. What can I do? We’re afraid that any deposit that is made, will be taken out by them.
    We live in California of course.

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