My Dad Only Gets Social Security And Can’t Pay His Credit Card. – Nancy

“Dear Steve,

I am asking for my dad he is retired and the only income he has is his ss check. He has a credit card that he can’t afford to pay for and is afraid that they will freeze his checking account. Can they do that


Dear Nancy,

Since it is only one creditor to deal with then he might be able to weather the collections activity. Your father should tell the credit card company and any collector that calls that he has no assets and only get a social security check. The company will recognize that they can’t go after that.

I’d say 50% of the time, in that situation, the creditor will back off. Sometimes people refer to the situation of someone living only on public benefits and having no assets as “judgment proof” since the benefits could not be garnished in case the creditor won a lawsuit.

When you father tells the creditor or collector, he should not use the term “judgment proof” as his excuse not to pay. He should just be polite, explain the reality of his situation and wish them a good day.

If your father has a lot of money in a checking account, stocks, or some other assets then they could be at risk if the creditor did a little digging. That would be a different situation.


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.
Steve Rhode
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5 thoughts on “My Dad Only Gets Social Security And Can’t Pay His Credit Card. – Nancy”

  1. Hi Steve, I live in the state of California and am in poor health. I’ve been on Social Security disability and Medicare for over two years now. I am near the point of applying for Medicaid and food stamps. I also have roughly 4000 dollars of credit card debt. I do have 7000 dollars in the bank, what’s left of my initial 16,000 check from social security. I am at a point where I’m awaiting low income housing on a list a mile long. My current rent, food costs and other bills, including doctor fees and prescription medication already force me to keep taking more and more money from my savings account every month to make ends meet. With the added burden of trying to pay 3 credit cards and everything else, at the rate I’m going I will not have any money for emergencies or even to move when I ever do get low income housing. I may come to the point where I can no longer afford to pay my rent here, which already takes 3/4’s of my monthly check.

    My question is, if I default on my credit card payments can they put a lien on my savings account, even though all of that money came from Social Security? I have no other assets. Don’t own a home or car, nor do I have any stocks or other equities. Any help will be appreciated!

    Thank you!


    • Michael,

      It is extremely doubtful they will do that will since you can prove the funds in your account are from public benefits. If you have co-mingled funds, benefit and non-benefit funds, in the same account then it might be a bit problematic.

      But it sounds like you would qualify for pro-bono bankruptcy assistance (free). The advantage of that is it would close the door on the debts and you would not have to be faced with collections or this debt following you into the future. The American Bankruptcy Institute publishes a list of bankruptcy assistance groups that provide this free help. Click here to find one near you.


  2. I am holding my first s.s. check over $10,000 I have no bank acct. I am 68. The check is almost 6 months old . I have ajudgement recorded in my Texas county. would it be safe to open a s. s. proceeds only acct?

    • Doyle,

      Please deposit that check and cash it before it becomes stale and void. It is unlikely that those funds will be touched. First, a judgment alone does not give anyone the right to garnish your wages or bank account. Second, benefit income is not attachable.



    Sec. 207. [42 U.S.C. 407] (a) The right of any person to any future payment under this title shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.
    (b) No other provision of law, enacted before, on, or after the date of the enactment of this section[, may be construed to limit, supersede, or otherwise modify the provisions of this section except to the extent that it does so by express reference to this section.
    (c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit withholding taxes from any benefit under this title, if such withholding is done pursuant to a request made in accordance with section 3402(p)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by the person entitled to such benefit or such person’s representative payee.s


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