Social Security Garnishment

30 Oct Social Security Garnishment

“Rachel’s most recent Ask a Lawyer column, answering readers’ questions in the Nashville PRIDE”



I plan to retire in a few years. I owe back taxes, credit card debt and child support payments. Are Social Security checks subject to liens and judgments?



“Social Security” covers a few different types of benefits, but the payments that people are usually talking about are Social Security retirement benefits. You can apply for these benefits on the Social Security Administration’s website once you are 61 years, 9 months old:   But, the full retirement age is 66 and will gradually increase to age 67 by 2027.   The Social Security Administration recommends that you apply three months before you want your benefits to start.


Social Security retirement payments can be withheld pursuant to a garnishment for back taxes or child support/alimony. So, yes, Social Security payments are subject to these debts. Social Security benefits are usually not subject to garnishment for credit card debt. But, it is important that you have the funds direct deposited from the Social Security Administration into your account. It is also possible that if you save up several months’ worth of Social Security benefits, the bank could freeze a portion of your savings and require you to go to court to show why it should not be used to pay your outstanding debt.


You cannot fight a Social Security garnishment through the Social Security Administration. Rather, you have to go to the entity that issued the garnishment. So, if you have a garnishment for back taxes, then you need to fight it with the IRS. If you have a garnishment for child support/alimony, then you need to go to the domestic relations court that issued the judgment. The Social Security Administration simply administers orders from other agencies.


Rachel owns and runs the Law Office of Rachel Thomas PLC, located at 114 30th Avenue South, where she focuses on representing persons accused of committing crimes as well as those dealing with family law issues (divorce or child support/custody). You can find additional legal information on Rachel’s website’s News/Blog page ( Her contact information is or (615) 645-9596.


The information in “Ask A Lawyer” is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Reading this column does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Attorney Thomas. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.