By definition, Supplemental Security Income is only available to people with low incomes who are disabled, blind, or are at least 65-years-old. Thus, people in Houston who are receiving SSI benefits from the Social Security Administration may not even have enough resources to cover their monthly expenses, let alone pay for any other bills. But. what happens when an SSI recipient had prior debts; can creditors garnish their SSI benefit payments?
The short answer is no, creditors cannot garnish SSI benefits. By contrast, Social Security Disability payments are not immune to garnishment. Under certain circumstances, a creditor can garnish a person's disability benefits. For example, the government can garnish payments to collect on back taxes or amounts due on federal student loans. Likewise, child support debts can lead to garnishment of a person's disability benefits.
Unlike Social Security Disability payments, however, no party can garnish SSI benefits. The circumstances under which the government will take back SSI benefits are extremely limited. If the government finds that the recipient was never entitled to receive SSI benefits, then it can reclaim them. Other than that scenario, no creditor can affect SSI distributions.
Fear of prior debts should not stop a person in need from applying for SSI benefits. As long as a person meets the requirements to receive SSI, no creditor, not even the federal government, can garnish the payments. Furthermore, if, somehow, a creditor is garnishing a recipient's SSI benefits, that person should contact an attorney for help.
People in the Houston area who need help applying for SSI benefits, or who have any questions about getting and retaining benefits, should contact an experienced Social Security attorney.
Source: Bankrate.com, "Can Social Security be garnished?," Sonya Stinson, Accessed on Jan. 15, 2016