Can debt collectors take my unemployment benefits?

| Aug 21, 2020 | debt relief |

Times are tough right now. If you or someone in your household is out of work, federal and state unemployment benefits may be just enough for you to get by. Unfortunately, if you have unpaid debts, that may create an extra headache.

In some cases, you may have debt collectors calling you night and day to make payments, even if you can’t afford them at the moment. Sadly, most debt collectors don’t often care about your situation. Their only goal is to get the monies they’re owed. This greed can lead them to court, where they may request a garnishment against you, which grants them access to your bank account to seize your wages.

Can my unemployment receive protection from wage garnishment?

In most cases, federal benefits are not susceptible to court-ordered wage garnishments. However, if they’re already taking your unemployment money, you may have to go back to court to stop the garnishment.

However, there are specific types of debts that don’t receive protection, such as delinquent federal tax debt, student loans, spousal support or child support.

In New Jersey, 90% of a person’s income is protected from wage garnishment if they earn less than 250% of the national poverty level. If a person’s earnings are 250% above the national poverty level, 75% of their income is exempt from wage garnishment.

Giving a reliable testimony to the judge

When disputing your wage garnishment with the court, you’ll want to demonstrate that you have exempt funds in your bank account. If your federal funds are electronic, you should submit the evidence displaying the deposits and the sources they came from. If you get paper checks, you will want to present the physical deposit slips.

If you can prove the evidence to the court, judges will no longer allow creditors and debt collectors to seize money from your bank account.

You don’t have to fight this battle alone

Financial hardship is easy to come by in times like these. And when you need to set your priorities on caring for loved ones, the last thing you need is wage garnishment from greedy debt collectors.

If you receive a garnishment notice in the mail, you will want to seek legal counsel. You’ll also want to look at the garnishment statement to look for the deadline and follow its instructions.