Can Military Retirement Pay Be Garnished?

by Ciele Edwards ; Updated July 27, 2017
Most private creditors cannot garnish a military retirement pension.

The U.S. Department of Labor notes that garnishment occurs when an individual fails to pay a debt and, as a result, his creditor sues him for the debt, wins and requests a writ of garnishment from the court. A creditor with a valid writ of garnishment may garnish both wages and bank accounts.

Significance

Military retirement pay is exempt from wage garnishment for most debts owed to private companies such as collection agencies, hospitals and credit card companies. Military pensions maintain their exempt status after the retiree receives the funds and deposits them into her bank account.

Considerations

Exceptions to the exemption rule include: debts owed to the government, unpaid child support and unpaid alimony. In these cases, the government can withhold a portion of the retiree’s pension and direct it to the appropriate party or department.

Warning

If a private creditor obtains a writ of garnishment and uses it to seize a veteran’s bank accounts, the individual must fill out an exemption claim form detailing the type and amount of exempt funds the account contains. If a retiree fails to claim his military retirement benefits as an exemption, the creditor will seize them.

About the Author

Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.

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