Disability garnished?

Kammie asks Dave if a person's wages can be garnished if they're on disability. Dave addresses the question, and lays out a plan for handling the short-term and long-term aspects of the situation.

QUESTION: Kammie follows Dave on Twitter. She asks if wages can be garnished if someone is on disability. Dave’s answer includes a game plan with short-term and long-term goals.

ANSWER: Disability income cannot be garnished, and neither can Social Security. What can happen is if you put that money into a checking account, there can be a lien placed on the account. So, if that money is direct deposited into a checking account, it can be scarfed out the back end of the account if you’re not very careful. You’d want to make sure that whoever is garnishing your wages doesn’t have access to that.

Now, if you are on disability and you are being garnished, you need to find a way to settle this debt and get it out of your life. Just because you’re judgment proof today — and the definition of judgment proof is you don’t really have anything they can get, like assets they can put a lien on, cash, or valuables they can attach and cause the sheriff to sell in order to meet your obligations — doesn’t mean you’re going to live your whole life that way.

At some point you’re going to want these people out of your life. Obviously, you owe them some amount of money. So working a game plan to save up a lump sum and offering them a settlement to go away is something you want to do in the long term. The short-term answer to your question is talk to a lawyer to be sure, but most of the time — like all the time — you cannot garnish disability income.