What Income Cannot Be Garnished

What Income Cannot Be Garnished?

When facing financial difficulties, it can be overwhelming to receive notice that your wages or assets are subject to garnishment. Garnishment is a legal process that allows creditors to collect a portion of your income or assets to satisfy a debt. However, there are certain types of income that are protected from garnishment. Understanding what income cannot be garnished can provide some relief and clarity during challenging times.

1. Social Security Benefits: Social Security benefits, including retirement, disability, and survivor benefits, are generally exempt from garnishment. These benefits are intended to provide financial support for individuals who have reached a certain age, are unable to work due to a disability, or have lost a loved one.

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a federal income program for individuals with limited resources and income who are disabled, blind, or aged. SSI benefits are protected from garnishment as they are meant to ensure a minimum level of income for those who are unable to work.

3. Veterans Benefits: Most veterans’ benefits, including compensation and pensions, are exempt from garnishment. These benefits provide financial assistance to veterans who have served in the military and are designed to help support their well-being.

4. Child Support and Spousal Support: While regular income can be subject to garnishment for unpaid child support or spousal support, certain benefits specifically designated for this purpose, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or state assistance, cannot be garnished.

5. Unemployment Benefits: Generally, unemployment benefits are protected from garnishment. These benefits are intended to provide temporary financial assistance to individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

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6. Workers’ Compensation: Workers’ compensation benefits, which are provided to individuals injured on the job, are typically exempt from garnishment. These benefits are crucial in supporting workers during their recovery and rehabilitation process.

7. Public Assistance: Public assistance programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or housing assistance, are typically protected from garnishment. These programs aim to provide essential support to low-income individuals and families.


1. Can credit card companies garnish my wages?
Credit card companies can garnish your wages if they obtain a judgment against you. However, certain income, such as Social Security benefits, is generally protected from garnishment.

2. Can student loans be garnished?
Yes, student loans can be garnished. However, there are limits to how much can be garnished from your income, and certain income sources may still be protected.

3. Can my bank account be garnished?
Yes, if a creditor obtains a judgment against you, they can garnish funds from your bank account. However, certain types of income, such as Social Security benefits, are typically protected.

4. Can the IRS garnish my wages?
Yes, the IRS can garnish your wages to collect unpaid taxes. However, they must follow specific procedures and give you notice before doing so.

5. Can child support be garnished from unemployment benefits?
Yes, unpaid child support can be garnished from unemployment benefits. However, the amount that can be garnished is usually limited.

6. Can alimony be garnished from veterans’ benefits?
Yes, if there is a court order for alimony or spousal support, it can be garnished from veterans’ benefits.

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7. Can my federal tax refund be garnished?
Yes, federal agencies, such as the IRS or the Department of Education, can garnish your federal tax refund to satisfy certain debts, such as unpaid taxes or student loans.

Understanding what income cannot be garnished can provide some peace of mind when dealing with financial difficulties. It’s important to consult with a legal professional to fully understand your rights and options in regards to garnishment.