SECURITY GARNISH MY WAGES TO COLLECT AN OLD OVERPAYMENT?
January 22, 2004, the Social Security Administration (SSA)
can garnish a worker=s wages in order to collect an
outstanding overpayment of social security or SSI benefits.
There are limits as to when and how much of a worker=s
weekly wages can be garnished.
Can Be Garnished?
garnishment rules do not apply to wages paid by the U.S.
government. If you have been laid off or fired
(involuntarily separated) from work and have been unemployed
for 12 months your wages cannot be garnished until you have
again been working for at least 12 consecutive months. If
your social security or SSI benefits ended because you began
working and are within your Aextended period of
eligibility,@ Aextended period of medicare eligibility,@ or
are using a Ticket to Work your wages cannot be garnished.
SSA cannot garnish your wages if you are still receiving
social security or SSI benefits.
When Can SSA
Begin To Garnish My Wages?
can garnish your wages SSA must have completed its Abilling
cycle@ by having sent your notice of the overpayment, a
reminder notice and a past due notice. If you have either
appealed the overpayment (filed a Request for
Reconsideration) or requested waiver of the overpayment SSA
cannot begin to garnish your wages until they have issued a
decision on your request.
If you made
an installment payment plan and have failed to make two
consecutive payments, SSA can begin to garnish your wages.
What Will I Be
Told Before Garnishment Begins?
SSA must send you
a notice letting you know that your wages will be garnished in
60 days unless you pay the overpayment in full, set up a payment
plan to repay the overpayment, request a review of the
overpayment, or request a waiver of the overpayment. If you do
not respond to this notice within 60 days garnishment will begin
unless you had Agood cause@ for making a late request.
How Much Money Can
SSA Take From My Wages?
Each pay day SSA
can take up to 15% of your Adisposable income@ or an amount
equal to 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is less.
ADisposable income@ is any income left over after deductions for
health insurance, taxes (federal, state, and local), and court
ordered deductions (child support). SSA can reduce the amount
if Afinancial hardship@ exists. AFinancial hardship@ exists if
you are unable to meet your ordinary and necessary living
expenses if your wages are garnished at the higher amount. If
fraud is involved in the overpayment SSA does not have to reduce
the garnishment amount. You can make a request to have the
amount lowered at any time after garnishment begins but if you
make this request within 60 days of receiving the garnishment
notice, no garnishment will begin until SSA responds to your
information contact the Disability Law Center, (617)723-8455,
(800)872-9992, TTY (617)227-9464, (800)381-0577,