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Federal wage garnishment laws explained for consumers, creditors and collectors.

State Garnishment Laws

Learn the federal wage garnishment law and your state’s wage garnishment laws

The best way to prevent wage garnishment actions is to be pro-active when dealing with creditors and debt collectors and to know wage garnishment laws. Federal and state garnishment laws can be used to stop, start and avoid wage garnishment actions by consumers, creditors and collectors. Wage garnishment (except student loans) is only possible after creditors and collectors obtain a court ordered judgment for such action. The garnishment action, otherwise known as “administrative wage garnishment” can be up to 25 percent of your disposable income.

Wage Garnishment rules taken directly from federal law; Title 15, Chapter 41, Subchapter II.

  1. Restriction on garnishments – Section 1673
  2. Restriction on discharge from employment – Section 1674
  3. Exemption for State-regulated garnishments – Section 1675
  4. Enforcement by Secretary of Labor – Section 1676
  5. Effect on State laws – Section 1677
  6. Garnishment of Social Security and Disability Benefits

1. Sec. 1673: Restriction on garnishment

(a) Maximum allowable garnishment

Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section and in section 1675 of this title, the maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any work week which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed

(1) 25 per cent of disposable earnings for that week, or

(2) the amount by which disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the Federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by section 206(a)(1) of title 29 in effect at the time the earnings are payable, whichever is less.

In the case of earnings for any pay period other than a week, the Secretary of Labor shall by regulation prescribe a multiple of the Federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that set forth in paragraph (2).

(b) Exceptions

(1) The restrictions of subsection (a) of this section do not apply in the case of

(A) any order for the support of any person issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or in accordance with an administrative procedure, which is established by State law, which affords substantial due process, and which is subject to judicial review.

(B) any order of any court of the United States having jurisdiction over cases under chapter 13 of title 11.

(C) any debt due for any State or Federal tax.

(2) The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment to enforce any order for the support of any person shall not exceed –

(A) where such individual is supporting his spouse or dependent child (other than a spouse or child with respect to whose support such order is used), 50 per cent of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; and

(B) where such individual is not supporting such a spouse or dependent child described in clause (A), 60 per cent of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; except that, with respect to the disposable earnings of any individual for any workweek, the 50 per cent specified in clause (A) shall be deemed to be 55 per cent and the 60 per cent specified in clause (B) shall be deemed to be 65 per cent, if and to the extent that such earnings are subject to garnishment to enforce a support order with respect to a period which is prior to the twelve-week period which ends with the beginning of such workweek.

(c) Execution or enforcement of garnishment order or process prohibited

No court of the United States or any State, and no State (or officer or agency thereof), may make, execute, or enforce any order or process in violation of this section

2. Sec. 1674: Restriction on discharge from employment by reason of garnishment

(a) Termination of employment :

No employer may discharge any employee by reason of the fact that his earnings have been subjected to garnishment for any one indebtedness.

(b) Penalties :

Whoever willfully violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both

3. Sec. 1675. – Exemption for State-regulated garnishments

The Secretary of Labor may by regulation exempt from the provisions of section 1673(a) and (b)(2) of this title garnishments issued under the laws of any State if he determines that the laws of that State provide restrictions on garnishment which are substantially similar to those provided in section 1673(a) and (b)(2) of this title

4. Sec. 1676: Enforcement by Secretary of Labor

The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, shall enforce the provisions of this subchapter

5. Sec. 1677. – Effect on State laws

This subchapter does not annul, alter, or affect, or exempt any person from complying with, the laws of any State

(1) prohibiting garnishments or providing for more limited garnishment than are allowed under this subchapter, or

(2) prohibiting the discharge of any employee by reason of the fact that his earnings have been subjected to garnishment for more than one indebtedness

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 exceptions are that benefits are subject:

(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

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  1. I lost a judgement and my bank account was seized by the collector. They took the funds in the account and overdrew the account. I did not receive any prior notification from the collector other than saying that I had 30 days from receipt of the letter to inform them whether the debt was valid or not. What recourse do I have?

  2. I made agranment with the loan after default, because I wast being gunished $140 every month. I’m disabled so I made a lesser payment arangment in Feb
    2015. They did not fix it when I got my payment in March they took out agin said I needed to wait 30- 45 day I said ok. In April I got taken again they said you have a couple more days so definitely by May again I said ok. Now here come mays and I am being told the The process didn’t start till march 26 o 45 day from that Date so basically the run around and there’s nothing I can due about it right?

    • Please give us a call we should look into this issue a little more, they may be violating your fair debt rights by taking more than the amount of the agreement. Call us today for a free case review, if you have a claim we can help at NO COST, let’s make the debt collector pay you! 888-595-9111.

  3. I have a garnishment from 5 years ago delivered to my job. I checked my credit report and the lender has lied saying they received a payment from me in April 2015. I didnt receive the garnishment papers until may . I havent corresponded are paid them anything since 2010.

  4. Just recieved wage garnish papers for a judgement against me from 2005… Judgement plus a extra 7% interest fee from 2005. My question is if i have dependant children. can they take the max of 25% and is that begore or after taxes?

  5. Hi. I’m a federal employee – civilian GS for the USCG. I was garnished for a travel advance that I am not disputing because my travel orders were cancelled at the last minute. My problem is that I was not issued a letter of indebtedness nor did I recieve a notice of garnishment before the funds were removed from my paycheck. I talked to the Coast Guard Finance Center about it and for the second time now, all I get is “My Bad”. Seems to me that this is in violation of wage garnishment laws, but the CG does not seem to care.

  6. I am being garnished from my paychecks, when I logged into my bank account I discovered that they had taken all of the money from there as well. I now have nothing to support my 4 kids on…….

  7. We went to court to file a claim against the person responsible for causing an auto accident and we won judgement and the court ordered the defendant to pay $2,661.88 and this was dated Nov. 9,2011. On Dec.06,2011 we filed a Execution/Garnishment order once we found out where she was employed. We have a copy of the order and the date it was served was Dec.07,2011. Her employer sent us one check for under a $100.00 and then we told she quit her job. And to this day we don’t know where she is, or who her employer is. And that is my question, is the garnishment still valid and can we still get our judgement against her?

  8. If I work overtime can they garnish my check for the full amount of my check???

    Example: If I work 40 a week but decided to work a extra 8 hours… Do they take. The garnishment from just tge 40 hours or do the take it from the whole 48 hours?

  9. I just received wage garnishment paperwork in the mail today for a wage garnishment that has already been placed on my paycheck. The wage garnishment has a date of issue as 8/17/2015 and I was not made aware of this garnishment until now. Had I been aware that paperwork was being filed against me in court, I would’ve contacted the agency beforehand to handle the debt before going to court. Normally, you are given a 7 day window from issue date, but the paperwork was never sent to me until today.

  10. I just finished paying a judgement for over $12,000 dollars. The law firm has started another judgement stating I owe $5,000 in interest and then will owe 8% on the $5,000
    as well. Is this legal in Florida? I am beyond angry.

  11. A ” WRIT OF GARNISHMENT AND SUMMONS” was just presented to my work, concerning State Farm and an accident i was in 4-5 years ago, where the person left turn on red trying to catch a yellow arrow and i ran into him. I didn’t have insurance at the time but we both agreed we would settle with out own insurance, and a police officer even documented it, it was no one at fault. now i get this from a lawyer group saying they’ve got a judgment on me all these years later, from fail to appear after they have been sending everything to an address i haven’t lived on since the accident, is that even fair? i didnt get a chance, and now the interest from the years took it from 13,000 to 19,000.

  12. Have a judgement/garnishment against for an apartment in another city, I never lived there and didn’t sign a lease agreement, how can I fight to stop and also get the money back that they have taken from ne

  13. I had my wages garnished without proper notification. Furthermore, there was never any attempt to collect the debt. I was not even aware of the debt until I received the “Answer to Writ of Garnshishment” letter I received from my employer. The letter from my employer was the FIRST piece of knowledge I had about the debt. I’ve studied the law and believe this to be illegal.

  14. Credit debtorare garnishing my check,

  15. How many creditor can garnish are check

  16. I have had two and my wife one surgeries in hospitals plus doctor’s, anesthesiologists’ and other medical care related expenses, including emergency room charges and my wife is the sole employed family member. We have been making payments on the bills in order of incurment mostly, but we can’t afford to pay all of them off at a time. My wife has been told that a couple of these creditors are going to garnish her wages even though she asked to make partial payments regularly in phone calls to their billing departments. We can not afford for 25% of her disposable income to be seized by these people and still pay all our other bills. She told these people some other bills will be all paid within three more months and we can start paying their bills then, but they said they were going to garnish her wages now. What do we do?

  17. When wages are garnished does it come out of each paycheck? I get paid weekly

  18. I believe that I am getting overly garnished. I get a 100 dollar check, and it say that I was garnished for 50 dollars. That’s 50% and I thought it was suppose to be like 30%.. Don’t know what to do.

  19. I have had my wages garnished for 4 years now. Had my taxes taken for close to 7. This company was garnishing my wages when I worked at cvs over 2 years ago. I was making under poverty level. Living in a rehab house then a sober house. I was also on food stamps because I didn’t make enough money to buy food pay rent and any other bill I had. They have continued taking money I pay 100-300 a week and in the 4 years there is no way I haven’t paid this debt off. I’m still being garnished I haven’t received any tax information from this company for the last 2 years.no paperwork with how much I owe how much I have paid off. Nothing at all. I can’t survive or move forward. My credit score says I’ve never paid anything and it’s affected me being able to get a personal loan so that I can keep my car which means I’ll be able to keep my job. They knew I couldn’t pay what they wanted and do anything about it. I researched this before and read that when I worked at cvs what they did was illegal and even now not telling me what I owe sending me my tax information and what I’ve paid in total is also illegal I need help because I’m on the verge of losing everything

  20. I just received a wage for my ex- husband( divorce since 2013) for a debt that he had prior ( 2000) to our marriage. Can I be held responsible for this garnishment? What rights do I have in getting my money plus damages back from these people. I was never notified in advance from my employer becausee of their inefficiency.

  21. I was given a payment plan by Assets Recovery Group and kept up on payments, but they -WITHOUT NOTICE- took out my money, my children’s money and my husband paycheck. The total amount owed was 2096. They got that plus more, and now a NEW garnishment order for the same amount is being ordered and my husbands check was garnished again ! They have go be in violation of Federal Law at this point. I just had surgery and my husband just got a devestating medical diagnosis. We can not continue to fight big companies with endless money or disregard for the law when we are barely surviving herr. Please tell me you know of a way to fight back with no money needed . Thank you.

  22. I am disabled and I have had at least 5 creditors report NEGATIVE COLLECTIONS on my FICO scores
    reporting that they are collecting against me. I have never been taken to court, there has been NO court motions brought and no one is COLLECTING upon me! However they are still reporting this and causing me great harm! My wife and I are trying to buy a house and start the process getting credit report checking credit scores and find this crazy report that quite honestly is “NUTS” because I am disabled my sole income comes from social security and ssr 79-4 states under I believe Rule 207 that the treasury money is EXEMPT from collection in summary! So they have reported this trying to side around the federal laws and are using this as a harrassment tool!

  23. I have a case from 1994 with my ex-spouse since 1994 I have moved on and had two more children by another man come to find out child support has been taking over $250 a week from my second spouse to pay back my first spouse’s debt to child support this is been going on for a very long time they have reversed and with a check for $1,800 with no explanation why or where this money has been going to this day they’re still taking out for my first spouse’s debt they will mail a check back to my second spouse but the hardship that has cost him is tremendous can you sue the state of California for this

  24. Hi I receive SSI and a debt collector seized my checking and savings account. Can they do that ? I even had a account with my little girl which is 12. Can they take that to.
    Thank you

  25. I make a maximum of $192 per biweekly pay period based on compensation for 24 hours part time at $8 an hour. My employer is deducting 25% of this to satisfy a levy issued by my state to collect on a medical bill from 2009. I mistakenly thought the medical bill was paid by my insurance, but evidently this was not so. Am I mistakenly thinking that since I make below 30 x minimum wage, my employer should not be taking 25% of my earnings?

  26. I received an email about wage garnishment is this a legit way of letting someone know if their wages will be garnished?

  27. 25% of my gross part time pay is being garnished due to a 2009 medical debt. The SC dept of revenue is enforcing the garnishment. I only make a max of $192 every two weeks. The original billing company now claims I have a zero balance and that I will get a refund. Evidently the 30 X minimum wage thing is bogus, and anyone that thinks you can’t be garnished in SC is mistaken. I am beyond mad and can’t get anyone to help me. The original bill is only $600 something, but the dept of revenue got a $25 cut, and my employer is making a dollar every time it sends in a payment. I am now working below minimum wage. The only notice I got in recent history was the forwarded writ of levy from my employer. I kind of hope I get fired. The garnishment for the balance of zero bill will surely end then! But…will they come after my meager belongings? I really don’t want to see my dog get levied, or my three pairs of sweatpants, cheap T shirts, etc. I worked for those! Heaven forbid they should get my Trac fone or Android tablet!

  28. Can title IV funded adoption subsidies for hard to place children be garnished as a result of a judgement?

    • As described, no, the subsidies are for the children. Don’t commingle the subsidies with your own bank account though or you will have to prove whose funds they are if you get garnished. Have you been garnished or are you being threatened? We sent you an email asking for additional facts, please reply or call.

  29. I’m trying to settle a medical collection from 2014 here in the state of Ga. The collection agency is being impossible with accepting 25% of the balance. I’m trying to purchase a house and I need this collection off my credit report. The hospital sold three accounts to them so it’s three accounts on my credit report for 3 different dates of service for the same amount of money. The debt totals to about $1647 so I’m offering $411 to settle. I feel it’s fair considering they got this debt for little or no money and it was written off by the hospital who told me, they no longer handle it and I have to deal with the collection agency at this point. I received two lump sum backpay from SSDI. The last one received was March 2017. I don’t have nearly enough now to pay off the whole debt or more than what I’m offering. Is that settlement amount reasonable for someone that’s on disability? Can they eventually sue or garnish my only income which is SSDI?

    • SSDI cannot be garnished over this debt based on what you’ve said. But you should not commingle exempt funds like SSDI with non exempt funds in the same bank account to be safe. And threatening it would be illegal. But they don’t have to accept anything less than full payment, though they can’t get blood from a stone. Give us a call, let’s evaluate your consumer rights as a whole, no cost for the consultation and you may be entitled to damages.

  30. My wages were garnished in 2014. I satisfied the debt and yet the garnishment goes on. $1500 over the amount I owed. I have the documents to prove this but my employer says they can’t do anything about it. Why can’t they stop sending my money?

    I was not served, had no notice of pending garnishment until my employer notified me…. how could that happen?

  31. My employer just received wage garnishment papers for a defaulted student loan, They are already confiscating my tax returns for this debt. My Question is can they do both?….
    I have paid almost 50,000$ on the orgiinal 19,000 loan, which is over 20 years old, and they sell it to a different collector every 3 to 6 months, and add their fees up to 3,000$ every time to the loan is this legal?
    What can be done about this practice, sick and tired of the shuffle and oppression.

  32. I have several judgments against me for non-payment of credit cards. My only source of income is my social security. I have my house which I still owe on, I drive a 10 year old vehicle and my bills get paid from my social security which leaves me with $35.00 a month after all is paid. What can be garnished and what can I do to prevent it?

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