What is Judgment Proof? Can collectors garnish my disability payments?
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:
- Clicking here for a FREE* Fair Debt Case Review;
- Calling toll free 888-FDCPA-LAW (888-332-7252);
- Clicking here to locate a FREE* Fair Debt Lawyer.
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!