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Can my bank or credit union charge me a fee for garnishing my Social Security or VA benefits?

It depends. If you have more than two months’ worth of benefits in the account and the balance includes other money, then the bank can charge fees against the other money.

Take your monthly Social Security or VA benefit and double it. Federal law protects this amount if your benefits have been deposited into your account for the last two months or longer.

If you have less than two months’ worth of Social Security or VA benefits in the account when your bank receives the garnishment order, then your bank can’t charge a garnishment fee — period.


You could lose this protection if you put other money in this account. If, within five business days of the garnishment, other money goes into the account and you have more than two months’ worth of benefits, the bank can collect a garnishment fee against the other money.

If you think your bank charged you a garnishment fee when it shouldn't have:

  • Call your bank and explain why you think the garnishment fee is wrong.
  • Consider seeking legal assistance. The Eldercare Locator , a public service of the U.S. Administration on aging, can refer you to a local agency that provides free legal help to seniors who qualify. You can also find a lawyer in your state.
  • You can also use our sample letter to tell a debt collector that you receive protected income from Social Security or VA benefits.

If you’re having issues working with your bank to resolve the issue, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB.