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Benefit from the Experience of Attorneys Bill and Valerie Sherman Former Assistant Attorney General, Assistant County Attorneys and Magistrate Judge

Is Social Security Income Protected from Creditors?

Q: I get Social Security benefits. Can creditors take them from me if I owe them a debt? How will Social Security impact my bankruptcy?
A: If you were injured, have a psychological disorder or are simply retired and receiving Social Security there is good news. Generally, creditors cannot take (“seize”) Social Security benefits. That's true even if they have sued you and gotten a judgment in a Georgia against you in court.

With the exception of certain federal agencies, creditors cannot garnish or seize Social Security benefits, whether it is retirement (you must be at least 62 years old) disability, survivor’s benefits, or SSI. Congress has written this protection into law. This means that creditors such as credit card companies, banks, medical collectors, and loan companies, cannot take Social Security benefits under any circumstances. And these protections apply, even if the creditor has a judgment against you. The court may not order you to pay the judgment out of Social Security money. Even after Social Security funds are deposited into a bank, they are still protected from garnishment or seizure.

For the most part, your Social Security money is protected (or "exempt") when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But not if you've mixed the money with other funds. So do your best to keep Social Security funds in a separate bank account.