Social Security Disability benefits are meant to help disabled workers when they need it most. Because of this, these benefits come with a number of built-in protections so that creditors cannot take these benefits from workers who need them.

Though in most circumstances creditors cannot garnish or attach to a disabled worker’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments and Social Security payments, there are still a few exceptions that disability claimants should be aware of when applying for benefits. 

SSDI Payments and Circumstances in Which they Can Be Garnished


For the majority of disability recipients, SSDI payments are not taxable. This is true even for disability recipients who are earning some income in addition to their disability benefits. However, if the disability recipient or his or her spouse is earning a substantial income, it is likely that the disability recipient’s SSDI payments will be subject to federal taxes. It is unlikely that a disability recipient would have to pay state taxes on his or her benefits as only a few states tax disability benefits.

Child support

Some but not all disability benefits can be taken to pay a disability recipient’s child support. SSDI benefits can be taken for this purpose, but not Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit. This is because SSDI is a disability benefit that is earned by a worker over time, while SSI benefits are need-based and given to low-income individuals. As a result, SSDI is considered to be income for the purposes of calculating child support, while SSI benefits are not calculated the same way.


Most state courts do not consider SSDI benefits to be marital property during divorce proceedings when marital assets are being divided. However, like with child support, SSDI benefits are considered income when determining alimony awards while SSI benefits are not.

Student loans

If a disability recipient received federally guaranteed student loans and is behind on his or her loan payments, the federal government can take steps to recover what it is owed by taking the disability recipient’s disability payments.


Garnishment is used to collect money a disability recipient owes on a judgment by ordering the Social Security Administration (SSA) to pay the money directly to the person to whom it is owed.

If a disability recipient is responsible for making court-ordered child support or alimony payments or is behind on his or her federal student loan payments, his or her SSDI benefits can be garnished to satisfy these obligations.


Because disability recipients need their SSDI payments to live on, these benefits are generally protected in Chapter 7 bankruptcy but there are some exceptions. Whether a disability recipient can keep all of his or her SSDI payments depends on where the disability recipient lives, whether the disability recipient gets payments from any other source, and whether the disability recipient is trying to protect past or future disability payments.

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Do you need help in understanding SSDI benefits and are seeking to apply for them? Consider the Law Office of Neil H. Good for your representation. Contact us online or call for a free case evaluation #(847) 577-4476.