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Social Security Disability cannot be garnished by creditors

If you have been fallen ill or been disabled to the point that you are unable to work, applied for Social Security Disability, waited the many months it generally takes to have your case decided, and then been approved for SSD benefits, it is a safe assumption that you are fairly strapped for cash. So what happens when a credit card company files a lawsuit against you, seeking to garnish your Social Security Disability benefits to pay a credit card debt?

In short: nothing. Credit card companies and other holders of unsecured debt may not garnish your Social Security Disability payments or other state and federal benefits in order to make payments on the debt. However, that does not mean that you can sit back and do nothing.

If you receive a lawsuit summons, you should make all efforts to appear at the scheduled court date. If you are unable to attend, contact the court clerk and ask to have the date changed.

When you go to court, it may be beneficial for you to have an attorney at your side. But if you are unable to retain a lawyer, the best thing for you to do is to calmly present your side of the story. Explain your recent financial struggle and the reason for it, and provide financial statements and other evidence if possible.

Even if you prove that you have been unable to make payments, you may lose the case. If so, the court may order a levy on some of your assets to pay the judgment, or put a lien on property such as your car or your home. However, if you are only receiving Social Security Disability benefits and have no other income or assets, the credit card company will not be able to take that away from you.

Source: CreditCards.com, "What happens when you're sued for a credit card debt," Erica Sandberg, Jan. 25, 2012

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