Can They Garnish My Social Security SSDI Disability Check?

The Social Security Act prohibits alienation or assignment of benefits, such as execution, levy, attachment or garnishment. See 42 U.S.C. § 407(a). However, there are two narrow exceptions to the anti-assignment provision. First, Title II benefits are subject to withholding in accordance with State laws enacted pursuant to subsections (a)(1) and (b) of 42 U.S.C. § 666 (2000), and to any other “legal process” for the enforcement of alimony or child support obligations. See id. § 659(a). Subsections (a)(1) and (b) of 42 U.S.C. § 666 do not mention any procedure for collecting alimony or child support other than income withholding subject to the percentage limitations of the CCPA, codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1673. “Legal process” is defined as “any writ, order, summons or similar process in the nature of garnishment” issued by a court or administrative agency. See 42 U.S.C. § 659(i)(5)(A)(i) (emphasis added). The regulations at 5 C.F.R. § 581 et seq., and POMS also do not authorize any form of Title II benefits assignment other than income withholding in the nature of garnishment for the limited purposes stated.

Second, 26 U.S.C. §§ 6331 and 6334(c) permit the Internal Revenue Service to levy upon Social Security benefits only for collection of Federal income taxes.