While most creditors can’t garnish your Social Security payments, the federal government is able to garnish your benefits to pay delinquent federal income tax and other federal debts. Supplemental Security Income, which is a different program for disabled people, children and the elderly, cannot be garnished under any circumstances.

Under the Federal Payment Levy Program, the IRS can garnish 15% of your Social Security benefits for back taxes. And then if you owe a federal student loan, the government can take another 15% off for repayment, as long as your remaining monthly benefit doesn’t drop below $750 per month.

Further levies can be made against your benefits if you owe back child support or alimony, delinquent federal home loans and more. The amount that can be garnished in those circumstances depends on the state you live in.

If you have credit card bills, medical bills, unpaid personal loans, payday loans, etc., your Social Security benefits cannot be garnished for those debts. Those creditors also can’t garnish the following:

  • Veterans benefits
  • Service member’s pay
  • Military annuities and survivor’s benefits
  • Federal employee and civil servant retiree benefits
  • Railroad retirement benefits
  • Merchant seamen wages
  • Longshoreman and harbor worker death and disability benefits
  • Foreign service retirement and disability benefits
  • Compensation for injury, death or detention of employees of U.S. contractors outside the country
  • Any FEMA benefits such as disaster assistance


If you have received notice of an impending garnishment, you need to speak with an expert bankruptcy lawyer. Castle Law Office has been handling bankruptcies for Kansas City clients from more than 14 years. If you need the fresh start bankruptcy can provide, call us today at 816-842-6200 to speak with an attorney. Or click here to contact us and schedule your free consultation.