Some assets and income cannot be garnished, meaning such assets are exempt from forceable seizure. Creditors can’t take such funds from your bank account to collect on debts you owe. However, if none of your income is exempt, a creditor may take all the money in your bank account. If any of your exempt income is being garnished, you can file an objection in court. If you file it quickly, you may be able to stop the garnishment.
To learn about garnishments in the most general sense, Turner Law has created a brief overview of garnishments.
Income and assets generally exempt from garnishment include:
- Social Security benefits and disability payments
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments
- Veterans’ Benefits
- Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
- Military Annuities and Survivors’ Benefits
- Railroad Retirement Benefits
- Merchant Seamen 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 U.S.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Assistance
- General Assistance Benefits
- Family Independence Program (FIP) grants
- Food Assistance Program (FAP)
- Electronic Benefits Transfers (EBT)
- State Disability Assistance
- Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
- Student loan disbursements, grants, or work assistance
- Unemployment Compensation benefits
- Worker’s Compensation benefits
- Cash value of life insurance policies that are payable to your spouse or children
- Income benefits under the Michigan Civil Service Act
- Income benefits under the Michigan Retirement Act
- Pensions covered by ERISA
There are some exceptions to that list. For example, Social security disability and retirement benefits can be garnished to pay federal taxes, child support, and alimony.
- SSI payments can’t be garnished under any circumstances;
- Pension income can be garnished once it’s in your bank account.
- Income from the other sources listed above stays exempt once it’s in your bank account. (It’s best to avoid putting it in the same bank account with non-exempt income.)