How Can I Stop a Department of State Wage Garnishment of My Social Security?


Dear Steve,

In April 2019, I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I was forced to leave my employer and start a long process of treatment that would eventually lead up to a bone marrow transplant.

Currently, I am in full recovery from the transplant and not yet able to work. I am still on recovery meds and maintain a compromised immune system. COVID 19 is a very real factor in my ability to work. I continue to isolate and recover from cancer.

To alleviate financial stress from family members, and retain a degree of independence, I applied for SSI until I could go back to work.

This morning my monthly SSI check deposited $250 short. I contacted SS admin, they said there was a garnishment from the dept. of state. They were using an address from 8 years ago.

I can’t afford to have this garnishment.

What recourse do I have based on my current situation?



Dear Kevin,

It’s good to hear you are making progress to beat the Leukemia diagnosis. Truly is a bad time for a pandemic.

Well, the first thing to do would be to get as much information about what department initiated the garnishment so you can call to talk to them.

The Department of State statement seems unlikely. Most often these debts that can garnish Social Security are from the Department of Education or IRS.

If you owe the federal government money, there can be an administrative wage garnishment to take money from SSI, Social Security, or any other government benefit.

Once you discover exactly who is garnishing your wages and for what, I would urge you to file an appeal without delay. See How to Easily Stop a Social Security Wage Garnishment.

The garnishment is not going to stop until you take action to appeal it, state your case, and get a ruling in your favor.

The bad thing about owing the federal government money is those debts never expire.

See also  Garnishment of Poor Seniors by Federal Agencies- a Shameful Practice

Please update me in the comments below on your progress in dealing with this.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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