I Got My Wages Garnished for an SSI Overpayment. Help! – Fran

“Dear Steve,

63 years old got an overpayment in 2000 and 2001 from social security SSI. I paid them 10$ for 5 or 6 years and then stopped. I got a notice 3/7 that my wages were garnished. I called HR at work and they said, ‘sure, we got notified last week sometime.’ I make $9.36/hour and when i signed up for early retirement and sent in my w-2 they got right on it. my earnings last year had more than 6,000 dollars in overtime. this year isn’t going to be that way. my first garnish was the 10th and my full check was $536.00 for two weeks. i get direct deposit so i haven’t seen my stub yet. i know nothing. reading the internet is too much. please help if you can.

now that the garnish has already gone through is there any form to file asking for a reduction? thank you.


Dear Fran,

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

Owing the government money is one of the only ways to get SSI or wages garnished.

How much do you still owe for the overpayment? I’m assuming the government used an administrative wage garnishment and is going for 15% of your income.

Typically once you’ve been garnished it is too late to work with the government to create a repayment plan.

Here is what Social Security says about the Administrative Wage Garnishment process:

You will be notified about Social Security’s plans to use AWG in a 60-day pre-garnishment notice which may also inform you about the Treasury Offset Program and reporting your debt to credit bureaus, if applicable. The 60-day notice provides the following information specific to AWG:

  • The law allows Social Security to collect the overpayment from your pay;
  • Social Security may order your employer to withhold and send us as much as 15 percent of your disposable pay every payday;
  • Your employer must withhold that part of your pay and send it to Social Security until we collect the debt in full;
  • The disposable pay is the amount left after deduction for health insurance premiums and deductions required by law, such as taxes;
  • You may avoid AWG by paying the debt in full or making installment payments before AWG begins;
  • You may request that Social Security review the debt or the repayment schedule stated in the notice;
  • You may request a lower rate of withholding when the rate stated in the notice would cause financial hardship;
  • You may request that Social Security waive recovery of the debt for benefit overpayment;
  • Social Security will collect the overpayment at a higher rate than 15 percent of disposable pay if you ask us to do so;
  • The law prohibits your employer from firing, laying off or taking disciplinary actions against you merely because Social Security served an AWG order on your employer;
  • Social Security will not order your employer to conduct AWG if you were fired or laid off and have not had 12 continuous months of work since the adverse action;
  • You should tell Social Security in writing about a change in employment by calling or visiting any Social Security office.
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