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Roger, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 31770
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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Are Social Security Payments and Military Retirement Payments

Resolved Question:

Are Social Security Payments and Military Retirement Payments exempt from Garnishment in New Mexico and Tennessee?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  Roger replied 8 years ago.

Federal law makes your Social Security benefits exempt from levy, garnishment, assignment by regular creditors, and from the trustee in bankruptcy. (The federal government can withhold some part of Social Security payments for taxes, student loans, or support, however.) That means that even a creditor with a judgment cannot intercept your Social Security payments nor can they take the money from you after it has been paid to you.


Most pension plans are exempt from garnishment, although some may only have a specified portion protected. Overall, garnishing payments made from a retirement plan is very difficult. Most retirement plans contain "anti-alienation" provisions barring the plan administrator from paying benefits to anyone except the plan holder or beneficiary, such as a spouse.


Whether or not your pension can be garnished depends on how your pension is set up. My suggestion is to contact someone at your company and ask how the program is set up and whether it is protected from creditors.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
My question specifically asked about garnishment of Military Retirement Payment. The answer received talked about Pension Plans (as though I was actively involved in a pension plan at this time). If the same person who provided the information will correct this oversight, I will be happy to accept the answer and make payment to him.

Expert:  Roger replied 8 years ago.

Sorry - I don't know why I had pension in my head -


Retirement pay is not subject to the Defense Department policy allowing creditors to garnish military paychecks to satisfy bad debts.


One exception - a civilian court can garnishee the income of retirees if they fall behind in alimony or child support. Garnishment begins with a court order sent to a military finance center.



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