Can My Bank Account and Retirement Income Be Seized if I Can’t Pay a Debt?

“Dear Steve,

I was sued by a law firm in the state I lived in for an unpaid debt. We went to court and there was an agreement for a monthly payment plan.

Can the law firm freeze my bank account if I can’t pay the debt? I am on social security and have a civil service retirement.


Dear Frank,

I am not an attorney. I’ve never played one on television. And I can’t give you legal advice. You MUST talk to an attorney who is licensed in your state for that.

What I can give you is my opinion and observations. If your only income is benefit related then those funds are typically exempt from being seized or garnished. That is what most people refer to as being “judgment proof.” It doesn’t mean you can’t be sued, it just means they can’t do what you are worried about.

In some states you can’t even garnish wages.

So as you can see there are a lot of issues that could be easily solved with a quick conversation with an attorney who is licensed in your state.

But more overarching is the issue that it sounds like you simply can’t afford to repay the debt and if this is just one of a number of other debts you owe then I suggest you schedule a free consultation with a local bankruptcy attorney and talk to them about putting this all behind you by filing bankruptcy. Maybe it’s time to close the door on debts you can’t afford and just focus on living a life with less stress.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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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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