Federal Wage Garnishment Laws
Wage garnishment laws cover areas such as work wages, bank accounts, and student loans in default. The law does not describe how to stop wage garnishment! The best way to prevent wage garnishment actions is to be pro-active when dealing with creditors and debt collectors.
You can use federal and state garnishment laws to stop, start, and avoid wage garnishment actions by consumers, creditors, and collectors. A wage garnishment (except student loans) is only possible after creditors and collectors obtain a court-ordered judgment for such action. The garnishment action, otherwise known as “administrative wage garnishment,” can be up to 25 percent of your disposable income.
Wage Garnishment rules are taken directly from federal law; Title 15, Chapter 41, Sub-chapter II.
1. Sec. 1673: Restriction on garnishment
(a) Maximum allowable garnishment
(1) 25 percent of disposable earnings for that week, or
(2) the amount by which disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the Federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by section 206(a)(1) of title 29 in effect at the time the earnings are payable, whichever is less.
In the case of earnings for any pay period other than a week, the Secretary of Labor shall, by regulation, prescribe a multiple of the Federal minimum hourly wage equivalent in effect to that outlined in paragraph (2).
(1) The restrictions of subsection (a) of this section do not apply in the case of
(A) any order for the support of any person issued by a court of competent jurisdiction or by an administrative procedure, which is established by State law, which affords substantial due process, and which is subject to judicial review.
(B) any order of any court of the United States having jurisdiction over cases under chapter 13 of title 11.
(C) any debt due for any State or Federal tax.
(2) The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment to enforce any order for the support of any person shall not exceed –
(A) where such individual is supporting his spouse or dependent child (other than a spouse or child concerning whose support such order is used), 50 percent of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; and
(B) where such individual is not supporting such a spouse or dependent child described in clause (A), 60 percent of such individual’s disposable earnings for that week; except that, for the disposable earnings of any individual for any workweek, the 50 percent specified in clause (A) shall be 55 percent and the 60 percent specified in clause (B) shall be 65 percent, if and to the extent that such earnings are subject to garnishment to enforce a support order for a period which is before the twelve-week period which ends with the beginning of such workweek.
(c) Execution or enforcement of garnishment order or process prohibited
No court of the United States or any State, and no State (or officer or agency thereof), may make, execute, or enforce any order or process in violation of this section
2. Sec. 1674: Restriction on discharge from employment because of garnishment
(a) Termination of employment :
No employer may discharge any employee because of garnishment actions.
Whoever willfully violates subsection (a) of this section shall be fined not more than $1,000, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both
3. Sec. 1675. – Exemption for State-regulated garnishments
The Secretary of Labor may by regulation exempt from the provisions of section 1673(a) and (b)(2) of this title garnishments issued under the laws of any State if he determines that the laws of that State provide restrictions on garnishment which are substantially similar to those provided in section 1673(a) and (b)(2) of this title
4. Sec. 1676: Enforcement by Secretary of Labor
The Secretary of Labor, acting through the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, shall enforce the provisions of this subchapter
5. Sec. 1677. – Effect on State laws
This sub-chapter does not annul, alter, or affect, or exempt any person from complying with, the laws of any State
(1) prohibiting garnishments or providing for more limited garnishment than are allowed under this sub-chapter, or
(2) prohibiting the discharge of any employee because of garnishment for more than one indebtedness
Social Security and Garnishment:
Generally, Social Security benefits are exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or another legal process, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law. The exceptions are that the benefits are subject:
(1) to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to make levies for the collection of delinquent Federal taxes and under certain circumstances delinquent child support payments; and
(2) to garnishment or similar legal process brought by an individual to enforce a child support or alimony obligation.
Section 207 of the Social Security Act provides: “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 money paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal processes, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.”
However, section 6331 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (26 U.S.C. 6331) enacted into law on August 16, 1954, after the enactment of section 207, gives the Secretary of the Treasury the right to levy or seize for collection of delinquent Federal taxes, property, rights to property, whether real or personal, tangible, or intangible and the right to make successive levies and seizures until the amount due, together with all expenses, is fully paid. References: SSR 79-4: SECTIONS 207, 452(b), 459 and 462(f) (42 U.S.C. 407, 652(b), 659 and 662(f)) LEVY AND GARNISHMENT OF BENEFITS 20 CFR 404.970 SSR 79-4.