If you don't pay a debt you owe, a creditor may send you letters demanding payment, call you at home or sell your account to a collection agency. However, when a creditor doesn't receive payment through conventional methods, he may seek to recover the debt by attaching to a debtor's salary.
About Salary Attachment
An attachment to salary occurs when a creditor files a lawsuit against you and the court grants him a judgment, which is a court order allowing the creditor to collect the debt from you by force. To attach to your salary, the creditor submits the necessary documents, which may include a copy of the judgment or a writ of execution, to the local sheriff. The sheriff orders your employer to withhold a portion of your wages and send it to the creditor.
Under federal law, consumer creditors may typically attach to a maximum of 25 percent of your disposable earnings, which are those earnings you receive after your employer deducts required tax payments. However, creditors can't take more than the amount by which your earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage. Federal law allows creditors collecting child support to attach to up to 65 percent of a debtor's salary, depending on the circumstances.
Creditors in all states are subject to at least the federal attachment rules, but certain states impose harsher restrictions on creditors. For example, some states, such as Texas, only allow attachments to salary when the worker owes child support, alimony or back taxes. Other states, such as New York, allow creditors to attach to only 10 percent of a debtor's salary. States also determine their own guidelines for creditors to follow when enforcing an attachment order.
Under federal law, an employer can't fire you because a single creditor is attaching to your salary. However, he may be able to fire you if more than one creditor submits an order. Federal law prevents creditors from attaching to Social Security retirement, Social Security disability insurance or veteran benefits, unless the debt is for student loans, back taxes, alimony or child support. Federal law also protects Supplemental Security Income from garnishment to repay any debt.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Wages and Hours Worked: Wage Garnishment
- Bankrate.com: How Wage Garnishment Works
- Lawyers.com: Garnishment and Forcing Debt Payment
- Fair-Debt-Collection.com: State Wage Garnishment and Attachment Rules
- Illinois Legal Aid: Can My Social Security Check Be Garnished to Collect on a Student Loan Debt?
Amanda McMullen is a freelancer who has been writing professionally since 2010. She holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and statistics and a second bachelor's degree in integrated mathematics education.