Can My Social Security Survivor Benefits be Garnished?


Dear Steve,

I am in debt over my head and having a very hard time keeping up with credit cards. I pay the bills, but I have to use a credit card if I need something later in the week.

Can Credit card companies garnishee my S.S. widow’s benefits? That is my only income. I’m 72.



Dear Penny,

First off, your Social Security Survivor benefits may be protected from garnishment. But it can get technical if the money is in a mingled account. So I would suggest you call and talk to the good people at the nonprofit law firm HELPS. They specialize in this exact situation and can provide you with extraordinarily low-cost but high-value advice.

The credit card debt situation indicates that you live on the financial edge and use cards to bridge the gap when you don’t have money to pay expenses.

There is no way to know if this is a symptom of a more significant issue or something as small as a timing issue. However, the intelligent thing to do would be to talk to my debt coach friend Damon Day and walk through your current situation.

There are solutions, options, and better days ahead. I’d like for Damon to have a chat with you can come up with a specific plan to guide you forward based on your individual and specific situation.

If you call HELPS or Damon, come back and update me in the comments below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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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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3 thoughts on “Can My Social Security Survivor Benefits be Garnished?”

  1. Penny: Social Security cannot be garnished by a debt collector. Twice the monthly amount of Social Security benefits in any form deposited into a bank account is automatically protected under federal law from garnishment by banks no matter the source of actual funds in the account at the time of a garnishment. So if you received $1000 in SS each month, $2000 would be automatically protected in the account into which it is deposited even if there was money from something you sold, a gift a lottery ticket winning, whatever. Because your income is protected you don’t need to pay debt you can’t afford to pay. Eric HELPS


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