I’m seeing more questions these days from people that are having their social security benefits garnished for old student loans or student loans they cosigned for. In addition I have received a few questions from people that are getting their social security garnished over old SBA loans as well.
The process to stop a social security garnishment is very easy. They key though is you want to get the ball rolling as soon as you receive a notice of garnishment.
Before actually garnishing social security benefits, the Social Security Administration will send a written notice of their intent to garnish and why. The notice should contain specific information about the government debt owed, the amount, and an estimated payment schedule.
How to Stop a Social Security Wage Garnishment
If you or someone you know has received a wage garnishment notice and feel the party to be garnished can not afford to be able to survive on the garnished funds then you can do the following:
- Request a review of the debt and garnishment action. This will immediately stop any pending garnishment until it is completed.
- Prove to the Social Security Administration the garnishment creates a financial hardship.
Financial hardship is defined as a situation in which withholding a particular amount from the individual’s pay would deprive the individual of income necessary to meet ordinary and necessary living expenses.
This request for reduction can be made at any time, and, no withholding will occur if the request is made within 60 days of the notice of garnishment.
In evaluating expenses the Social Security Administration uses the following guide:
1. Person’s Particular Circumstances Important
A persons particular circumstances and lifestyle determine whether expenses are ordinary and necessary. Patterns of living are established over time and these patterns must be considered when evaluating the facts. This policy, however, does not imply acceptance of unreasonable expenses which are neither ordinary nor necessary.
2. Types of Expenses
- fixed living expenses such as food and clothing, rent, mortgage payments, maintenance,
- utilities, transportation, necessary household help, insurance, taxes, etc.;
- medical, hospitalization and other similar expenses not covered by insurance;
- expenses for the support of others for whom the person is responsible;
- miscellaneous expenses consistent with the individual’s life style, such as newspaper,
- hairdresser, pet maintenance, entertainment, charitable donations, etc.
1. Determining Acceptable Expenses
- Do not impose rigid restrictions on acceptable expenses.
- Do not allow unlimited amounts for necessities such as food and shelter or exclude nonessential expenses such as entertainment.
- Allow such expenses as are consistent with the person’s standard of living.
- Do not allow extraordinary and unnecessary expenses (e.g., expenses related to a travel trailer used for vacationing) regardless of the person’s standard of living.
- Do not allow expenses that help a person maintain a luxurious standard of living that developed as the result of the incorrect payments.
- Fully document and explain any unusual individual circumstances.
2. Evaluation of Large Expenses
If the person has an unusually large expense, determine if the expense should be prorated over the entire year or if it is a recurring expense. Prorate an expense over the entire year if it is for a onetime expense (e.g., a large medical bill) or for items which would be used in the entire year.
3. Expenses of the Household
Include the expenses of a person who is a dependent member of the household. Do not include expenses of a boarder or anyone else in the household who is not a dependent.
4. Expenses Not Always Fixed Amounts
Be alert for regular payments, such as charge account payments where the person is paying more than the minimum payment. Reduce to the minimum amount shown on the charge statements, where appropriate, to permit some payment on the overpayment. Also, be alert to the possibility that some installment payments may duplicate itemized expenses (e.g., the $50 monthly clothing expense was charged and is included in the $75 department store payment). – Source
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