Garnishment Exemptions

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Some assets and income cannot be garnished. They are exempt from garnishment. Your creditor can’t take those funds from your bank account to collect money you owe it. If none of your income is exempt, a creditor can take all the money in your bank account. To learn about garnishments generally, read An Overview of Garnishments.

If any of your exempt income is being garnished you can file an objection. If you file it quickly, you may be able to stop the garnishment. Read Objecting to Garnishments to find out when and how to object.

Income exempt from garnishment

Generally, money from these sources cannot be garnished:

  • Social Security benefits and disability payments
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments
  • Veterans' Benefits
  • Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Military Annuities and Survivors' Benefits
  • Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • Merchant Seamen Wages
  • Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Death and Disability Benefits
  • Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U.S. Contractors Outside the U.S.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Assistance
  • General Assistance Benefits
  • Family Independence Program (FIP) grants
  • Food Assistance Program (FAP)
  • Electronic Benefits Transfers (EBT)
  • State Disability Assistance
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)
  • Student loan disbursements, grants, or work assistance
  • Unemployment Compensation benefits
  • Worker’s Compensation benefits
  • Cash value of life insurance policies that are payable to your spouse or children
  • Income benefits under the Michigan Civil Service Act
  • Income benefits under the Michigan Retirement Act
  • Pensions covered by ERISA

There are some exceptions to that list. For example:

  • Social security disability and retirement benefits can be garnished to pay federal taxes, federal student loans, child support, and alimony;
  • Pension income can be garnished once it’s in your bank account.

It's best to avoid putting exempt income in the same bank account as non-exempt income. Read Commingling of Funds to learn more.

If you need to file an objection to a garnishment, read Objecting to Garnishments. Use the Do-It-Yourself Objection to Garnishment tool to prepare an objection you can file with the court.

To learn more about protecting SSI from garnishment, watch the video below from Lakeshore Legal Aid: