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Can Debt Collectors Garnish My Federal Benefits?

by Gregory Mark Fitzgerald on Feb. 12, 2016

Bankruptcy & Debt Credit & Debt 

Summary: This article outlines what debt collectors are entitled to garner relating to your federal benefits.

When debt collectors are harassing you, it can be intimidating and confusing. The collector may make threats and you don’t know if they are valid or not. However, if you are not sure but you believe that your rights are being violated, you should contact us for the answers you need. If a collector is using illegal tactics, we can help you recover the monetary damages you deserve.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, many federal benefits are exempt from garnishment by creditors. Below are a few examples of federal benefits that are usually protected from being garnished:

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
  • Veterans’ Benefits
  • Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Military Annuities and Survivor's Benefits
  • Student Assistance
  • Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • Merchant Seaman Wages
  • Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Death and Disability Benefits
  • Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U.S. Contractors Outside the United States
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Disaster Assistance

As with most general rules, there are some exceptions. For example, the government may have the ability to garnish certain federal benefits if you owe money for unpaid taxes, alimony, child support or past due student loans.

The attorneys at Fitzgerald Campbell represent California consumers in all types of debt collections cases.  If you have been served with a collection lawsuit or you believe that you have been subject to an illegal debt collection tactic, we can help.  Contact us for a consultation by calling 866-927-8289 or emailing us at

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