Wage garnishment, or wage deduction, is the process of collecting a judgment by requiring the debtor's employer to take money out of the debtor's paycheck. However, the employer can only take a part of the debtor's paycheck for you. Sometimes, you might not be able to collect any of the debtor's paycheck if the debtor doesn't make enough money.
The most the employer can hold out for you is 15% of the debtor's gross income before taxes or deductions. However, the withholding can't leave the debtor with less than 45 times the state minimum wage as weekly take-home pay. The state minimum wage is $8.25 per hour so that there cannot be any wage deduction if the debtor's take-home pay is less than $371.25.
Here's how to find out how much an employer can take from a debtor's paycheck:
- Multiply the debtor's gross weekly wages by .15, and write this number down.
- Subtract $371.25 from the debtor's net (take home) weekly wages, and write this number down.
- The lower of the two numbers is how much the creditor can garnish from the debtor per week. If the lower number is zero, the creditor cannot garnish any of the debtor's wages.
Welfare and public or government benefits are protected from creditors; they are not garnishable. This includes:
- Social Security Disability
- Retirement and Dependent/survivor benefits
- General Assistance
- SNAP (Food Stamps)
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Most veterans' benefits
This means that you will not be able to take all or any part of those benefits to collect what the debtor owes you. Child support and maintenance that the debtor receives are usually not garnishable either.
Updated: January 2017