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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!

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  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.

      • The debt collector is not looking to harass an 84 year old woman for her money. They are asking for the return of their money.

        WTF makes you think this situation is OK

        • Harrassing someone who cannot repay is illegal, so you are wrong!

        • I’ll tell you WHY-TF she thinks that…..Because debt collectors as a whole are nothing but unscrupulous criminals exempt from the law!…Anyone or any company that would harrass the elderly and under privilaged, or any other misfortunate individual simply because they cant afford to pay some ridiculously exorbitant medical bill, or other bills for goods/services which were vital to the individuals existence and quality of life, not only dont DESERVE to be paid back but need to be locked up for harassment, abuse and unethical conduct!
          This country is going down the sh*tt*r fast, for many reasons, but mostly because of GREEDY, HEARTLESS, SELFISH individuals such as “debt collectors”! !

        • Bill D-

          above you claimed that DCA’s’ “…are asking for the return of their money.”
          That is patently false. Debt collectors BUY outstanding debts for literal pennies for dollars.
          how is a debt defined? in the simplest sense, about money, it is money owed by one party to another.
          the aforementioned 85yr old woman has 0% responsibility to return money to a party that sold the entirety of the money owed, after having it packaged and accepting….maybe 73.50 on a $5000 debt from a debt collector.
          please stop being a haughty American that believe that he actually lives in a capitalist society. THERE is NO such thing as AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM!
          we live in a Socialist leaning (broken) Republic soon to be simply an OLIGARCHY —look it up! you’re no better than someone who owes money at the end of their life in this failure of a rebellion from England!

        • who in the hell do you think you are saying that it’s ok to harrass an old lady you fe*k tard bastard

  3. 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!

      • In some states Social Security, SSI and other exempt income cannot be seized even if it is in a bank account containing other funds if the total amount in the account is less than a specific dollar amount. In my state a debtor can have up to $5,000 in a personal bank account regardless of the source of the funds, and not one penny of it can be seized. Anything above $5,000 could be subject to seizure.

        Anyone who has a judgment against them should research the laws in their state regarding what can be seized and what cannot.

  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. 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.

  13. I filed chapter 7 in N.J. and was discharged in 2010. My house was in foreclosure proceedings when I filed. I eventually vacated my home in March 2011 and moved out of state. On occasion I was getting correspondence from a Law firm about HOA fees I owed after my discharge. So I have read and read and it appears I am stuck with a ZOMBIE foreclosure. It appears my mortgage lender stopped the foreclosure after my chapter 7 discharge. Those communications stopped. The last thing this law firm sent to me was that a lien was being placed against the house. Now after 1 year of silence I received a certified letter from another LEGAL SERVICE in N.J. telling me that they represent the HOA and are seeking almost 9,000 dollars for the past 5 years I haven’t lived there. I have read all the laws about this and I even reached out to my attorney in N.J. who I paid and used for my chapter 7. His reply was “Do you think I can remember all the conversations I’ve had” I bet he can’t but I can remember all the conversations I had with him and not once was it mentioned I continue to pay my HOA fees or that I should just remain in my house until the foreclosure was final. Perhaps he wasn’t aware of ZOMBIE foreclosures in 2011? So now I’m retired in another state in the South and I receive only Social Security and a pension from New Jersey Public Employee Retirement System or N.J. State pension. I share this bank account with my wife who also ONLY receives her Social Security. All monies are direct deposited. Can I fight this HOA thing at all or just hope I am Judgement Proof?

  14. I am voluntarily returning a truck instead of being repo so can I be sued for the balance of the truck I am on Social Security disability for the past 9 years and I am living in Housing Authority

  15. Can creditors garnish private disability benefits in New York City?

  16. I am on disability and have received papers from a creditor suing me in small claims court. Says I have 14 days to answer. I know I am judgement proof. How should I fill the answer out and what should I say or should I just not answer at all?

  17. I was unable to continue working in 2009. I was not awarded social security disability until 2014. As you can see I went years without income and due to that had to let credit cards and medical bills go. I had credit cards before my accident. I now am needing some home improvements, but credit is not looking so great to do that. What is my best avenue to take to help out my credit report? Thank you!

    • I went through something similar and I called the creditor and explained the situation and they asked me to write a letter with the information I told them. They ended up writing it off as a charge off. Years later I got married and we wanted to buy a home and I had to satisfy that debt in order to buy a home so I called again and explained a series of unfortunate events and asked if they would accept $XXX to satisfy the debt in full and report it as a paid charge off. Again I had to submit a letter with the information I shared and my offer for $XXX was accepted and debt satisfied. With medical bills the same thing. I called and explained the situation and they satisfied the debt with a program the hospital has from donations for such cases. Dr offices will likely do something similar. To sum this up, I found that talking to the debt collectors and explaining your situation is the best thing you can do to get the debt satisfied. Most people are very empathetic. Best of luck to you.

  18. i am on ss disability and i have been sued and lost due to breach of contract and mental anguish, and filing a and loosing a frivolous law suit. I have lost and the plaintiff was awarded damages. I am married and my wife is employed, she was a part of the lawsuit that we lost but not on all aspects of it. On the damages, can my ss disability be garnished and or my wife’s income due to community property or marital income?

  19. I was just served papers today. I’m on SSI and have no assets. I’m a single mother and live with my mom. what should I do??

  20. I have credit card debt that a( collection agency) in San Diego, CA is trying to collect. They sent me a bill already for about $3,300. They want it all up front. It’s already been wrote off on my credit report. I’m on Ssi and that’s my only income. I have no assests either and I live in Oregon. I’ve been disabled my entire life. My husband is also on Ssi. If I don’t pay this, which Thiers no way I can, I can’t even make monthly payments. And they probably won’t accept 5$ monthly forever; what will happen. Can they send me a summons to appear in court. Do I have to appear. Do I need a lawyer. All they can do is get a judgement right.

    • Hi Tammy, Read my response and personal experience with a similar situation that I wrote to Toni a few questions up. Best of luck to you!

  21. My husband got served with papers today for a credit card he owes. I am disabled and receding SS.
    My husband had to stop working in order to care for me. He is a retired police officer and receding monthly pension.
    When I stopped working due to my illness we lost our house. What can happen?

  22. I recieve 1,253.00 a month child support and have under 17,000.00 credit card debt i cannot pay.A SSI appealing and owe nothing but personal belongings and have a auto payment. Credit score is already dropping. I cannot file bankrupcy again until spring of 2019. Will this be considered judgement proof? any advice would help.I live in michigan.

  23. My grandparents are retired and both are receiving ssi (Ohio). Recently they had some water damage to their home, but instead of contacting their homeowners’ insurance, they contacted a waterproofing company. My grandma which has been diagnosed with Alzheimer signed a contact with this waterproofing company. When I was made aware of this issue, I tried to contact the waterproofing company and they said that we could not cancel the contact that she signed because my grandparents would be charged $5000.00. They estimated the water damages costs to be $17,000.00 plus. As I mentioned before both of my grandparents are currently on SSI (Ohio) and are not employed. They don’t have any money to pay to have this water damage fixed let a long them to have to pay a cancelation fee of $5,000.00 to cancel the contact. They both own the real estate. Can this waterproofing company go after my grandparents? Are they judgment proof?

  24. I live in NY and my only source of income comes from a private disability policy I purchased while I was working. Is this income subject to debt collection resulting from a judgement against me?

  25. iam being summons to court for dead husbands timeshare debits .timeshare is contract signed with first wife 25 years ago. on disablity barley making it. also small pension sent letter got summons to go to florida . Live in Chicago il hard to travel for court cant afford it. what can they do to me if i dont shaw.

  26. My son died without a will and the mortgage company will need to take over his townhouse because I can not afford the mortgage or the HOA fees.
    I received a summons to go to court because the HOA is seeking fees and collection/court costs from me as the “heir” to my son’s property. (The mortgage company changed the locks on the property 5 weeks after his death, so I do not even have assess to this property.) Am I in any way responsible for this debt?

    Also, there are four additional legal heirs (father and siblings) but I am the one being harassed./

  27. Both my wife and I are on a Car loan. I was injured at work and found to be permanently disabled and placed on Social Security. The car was repossessed in the middle of the Worker’s Comp case. Two years later they are now coming after my wife instead of both of us. I understand that they cannot come after me for the remainder of the balance but, but she has a $10 an hour job that barely helps us make ends meet. She can’t hold down a 8 hour well paying job because of my health and some of the care that I need. What would be the best way to address this?

  28. Good Morning,

    I live in NH, and I just recevied a notice on my door for a Writ of Summons through an Attorny’s Ofiice that my credit card debt was sold to. I know this is my bad, and I have no excuse other than life for not staying on top of the cc payments and it got to this point. These are a few questions on how I deal with this from here:

    1. The court date is a month from now, do I call this attorney to see if they will work with me on a payment plan before it goes to court?

    2. Will they even work with me at this point on a payment plan or request a lump sum which I can not do?

    3. If I let this go to court and they get the judgement, from my understanding because I have been diabled and on SS for 10yrs now and see no change to that in the near future. Can they go after my husband paycheck?

    4. If yes, right now my SS is direct deposit to the account and so is my husbands paycheck. Should I have him open his own account and take his name off the one we use?

    5. OR since he does have a separate acct for his travel expenses for work, would it work if I just transfer his paycheck out of the main account into his expense acct as soon as it hits… or does that not matter and they can still garnish his wages?

    6. Who do I call, the court or the attorneys office to let them know I am diabled and on SS?

    7. What would I need to say to them when I call?

    8. Will they ask about my husbands pay? Or do I not mention at all that there is a second income in the household?

    9. My husband did not co-sign this loan for the cc, can they go around that by a community property rule? We live in NH and they call it “equitable divison” not sure if that is the same thing?

    Any advice/help you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, I look forward to your feedback and hope you have a wonderful day.

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