When a person becomes disabled, financial trouble usually isn’t far behind. Even if you are eligible for Social Security disability income, it may take a long time to get approved, and then may not stretch as far as your income did before disability.
Debt may accrue, and previous debts may take a backseat to immediate needs such as housing, food and medical care. A question our Houston Social Security disability attorneys are often asked is, can SSDI or SSI income be seized by debt collectors?
In many situations, your disability benefits are protected from such circumstances. Supplement Security Income benefits cannot be taken to pay off any debts, even government debts such as back taxes or student loans.
Social Security disability insurance benefits are a little different. These payments cannot be garnished for regular debt, including:
- Credit card bills
- Defaulted private loans
- Medical bills
However, there are certain debts for which they can be seized. These include:
- Child support (past due or current)
- Unpaid back taxes
- Defaulted student loans
While these benefits may be garnished to pay back child support, a better option is to request a child support modification because of your changed financial circumstances. You may also be able to apply for Social Security disability benefits for your minor child.
If you file for bankruptcy, SSDI benefits are in most cases exempt from being taken. However, some bankruptcy courts only exempt the amount needed for “care and maintenance.” Lump-sum back payments, or SSDI income accrued in a savings account may be taken to pay off Chapter 7 bankruptcy debts in some states.
SSI benefits, on the other hand, cannot be taken to satisfy bankruptcy debts in any case.
If you have questions about your Social Security benefits or need assistance appealing a denial, contact the Houston disability attorneys at The Law Offices Of M. Stanley Whitehead.