Can Your Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits Be Reduced or Garnished?

Your Social Security Disability or SSI benefits may be reduced for very specific reasons depending upon the disability program you are entitled to.

Let's look at some reasons your Social Security or SSI disability benefits can be reduced. Both disability programs allow for reduced disability benefits to be paid if there is an overpayment of benefits. This is the only reason for benefit reduction common to both receiving Social Security Disability, there are other reasons your disability benefits may be reduced. Social Security allows SSDI benefits to be garnished for child support (both present and arrears), a valid court order of victim restitution, alimony, money owed to the IRS, and other unpaid government loans or debts. However, Social Security does not allow creditors to garnish your Social Security Disability benefits.

In 1991, the federal government amended the garnishment guidelines to preclude levying or garnishment of SSI disability benefits. SSI is a need based disability benefit so there can be no levy or garnishment against it.

While SSI cannot be garnished for any of the above-mentioned reasons, it can be reduced for living arrangement changes.

The SSI disability program considers a beneficiary's living arrangement when determining their monthly disability benefit amount. If the beneficiary is able to pay their fair share of the household bills that pertain to the home in which they live, they may receive the full SSI disability monthly benefit amount. However, if their situation changes so that they are not longer paying their fair share of the monthly bills, their SSI disability benefits will be reduced.

Fair share of household expenses (rent, mortgage, utilities) means that the beneficiary is paying the same amount of the expenses as other members of the household. Also, an SSI disability beneficiary may receive reduced disability benefits if they are receiving inancial help from an outside source (i.e. parents, family members, church, friends, etc.).

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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