In a divorce, the parties’ Social Security benefits are not subject to division. But did you know that a person’s Social Security benefits are subject to garnishment to enforce a judgment for child support or an alimony arrears judgment? See 42 U.S.C. 659 section 459. When there is a judgment for child support or alimony arrears, up to 65% of the debtor’s Social Security benefits can be garnished.
I recently garnished the Social Security benefits from a client’s ex-spouse. Here are the five steps:
1. Obtain a judgment for the child support or alimony arrears;
2. Wait for the judgment debtor to start collecting Social Security benefits;
3. Consult with an experienced attorney to make sure that the contents of the Writ of Garnishment complies with the Social Security Administration’s exacting requirements to garnish benefits to enforce a child support or alimony award;
4. File the Writ of Garnishment (non-wages) to enforce the judgment;
5. Serve the Writ of Garnishment on the local field office of the SSA, such as the branch in Rockville, along with a cover letter containing the following information:
a. Name and SSN of the judgment debtor;
b. Name and SSN of the judgment creditor;
c. A copy of the divorce decree;
d. A copy of the judgment for money; and
e. A photocopy of the judgment creditor’s driver’s license.