We can withhold Social Security benefits to enforce your legal obligation to pay child support, alimony or restitution. State laws determine a valid garnishment order. By law, we garnish current and continuing monthly benefits. We do not make retroactive adjustments.
You cannot appeal to Social Security for implementing garnishment orders. If you disagree with the garnishment, contact an attorney or representative where the court issued the order.
The Department of the Treasury can withhold Social Security benefits to collect overdue federal tax debts. It can use:
- A Notice of Levy to collect overdue federal taxes under section 6334(c) of the Internal Revenue Code; or
- The Federal Payment Levy Program to collect overdue federal taxes. This allows the Department of Treasury to withhold up to 15 percent of your monthly Social Security benefits until you repay the debt.
You cannot appeal the reduction of a Social Security benefit payment under tax levy to Social Security. Contact the Internal Revenue Service at 1-800-829-7650 to discuss any appeal rights.
Delinquent non-tax debts
The Department of the Treasury can withhold Social Security benefits to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed to other federal agencies under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134). The Department of the Treasury controls this activity and will contact you if you owe a non-tax debt.
We have no control over this reduction of Social Security benefits, and there is no appeal available under the Social Security Act. If you have questions in this situation, contact Treasury staff at 1-800-304-3107.