Social Security Disability benefits are protected from most creditors

People suffering from a disability often have difficulty obtaining a steady income. That is why Social Security Disability benefits are so important to so many Americans struggling with disabling conditions and illnesses. Certain conditions make working impossible, meaning that bills can easily pile up. Combined with the high cost of medical care it is no wonder that people receiving SSDI often have debt.

Fortunately, it can be difficult for a creditor to garnish SSDI benefits. These benefits are intended to provide for basic living costs, the absence of which can severely harm the individual receiving them. As such, private financial institutions, such as banks, mortgage lenders and credit card providers, cannot garnish SSDI benefits - even if otherwise they could garnish wages. Neither can hospitals or medical providers.

Garnishment is the legal process whereby a creditor can withhold a certain percentage or amount of money from a check in order to pay off debt.

Government has more reach

Only the government reserves a right to garnish SSDI benefits in certain situations. For example, government authorities can garnish federal student loans, back taxes, child support owed, and civil penalties.

However, there are some rules. The first $750 of SSDI monthly benefits are mostly off-limits, even for the government. However, the IRS can take a 15 percent levy on all income, regardless of source or the amount of money coming in.

Student debt garnished more than ever before

According to the U.S. treasury, 156,000 Americans had their Social Security checks garnished to pay off student loans. Only a percentage of these Americans had SSDI benefits - retired Americans are also having problems paying off old student loans. In total, the U.S. garnished $150 million from Social Security debts for student loans, triple that garnished in 2006.

Applying for SSDI benefits still beneficial

Numbers such as reported on by the U.S. Treasury can be discouraging for disabled Americans who need Social Security benefits to provide for daily living expenses and medication. Regardless of the amount of debt a disabled person owes, however, it is still worthwhile to obtain SSDI benefits. While the government can withhold a certain amount of money under specific conditions, they will not garnish the entire benefit. And any amount of money can help when working is impossible.

In addition, the debts the IRS and other government agencies reserve the right to garnish will almost never go away. By beginning to pay such debts out of SSDI benefits, a person with a disability who recovers enough to find employment may be able to keep more of a future paycheck.

People who are considering applying for SSDI benefits should contact experienced disability lawyer Annette Rutkowski at to discuss their application and for help receiving the benefits they need and deserve.