13 Things to Know About Wage Garnishment

Need answers about wage garnishment in New York? At Lebedin Kofman LLP, our professional team can get this crucial issue under control for you. We have provided 13 answers to common questions that could help you understand how the process works. Call us at once if you need help in getting wage garnishment resolved.

1. What is a wage garnishment?

When the government or the court issues an order to your employer, the employer is then legally required to set aside a portion of your wages to pay off the debt.

2. What is the definition of “private debt?”

A private debt is a debt such as credit cards, student loans, medical bills or bank loans.

3. How much of my paycheck can be garnished?

The amount that can legally be withheld from you will be based upon your income, whether your gross income or the amount of your income deemed to be “disposable.” This is the amount you make after deductions for taxes, social security dedications and unemployment insurance. Your gross income is the amount you have earned prior to these deductions.

· If your disposable income is less than $217.50 per week, your wages cannot be garnished.

· If your disposable income is $217.50 - $290.00 per week, the credit can garnish either 10% of your gross income, or 25% of your disposable income, whichever is lower.

In most cases, 10% of your gross income is less than 25% of your disposable income.

If your disposable income is more than $290 per week the creditor has the right to garnish the lesser amount of:

· 10% of your gross income

· 25% of your disposable income

4. Can my wages be garnished if they already have a garnishment for spousal support or child support?

If your paycheck has already been garnished for spousal support or child support, you can still face wage garnishment for a separate private debt, but only up to 25% of your disposable income.

5. Can my benefits be garnished to pay a private debt?

All Social Security benefits and other benefits are exempt from debt collection and garnishment.

6. What do I do if I get a notice for wage garnishment?

This indicates that a creditor has a judgment against you. To lift this judgment, you must seek to get it vacated in court. Once the judgment is vacated, your wages can no longer be garnished and the judgment will not be on your credit report. In order to vacate a judgment, you file court papers and appear in front of a judge, either on your own or with the professional assistance of a New York debt relief attorney.

7. What do I do if my wages are already being garnished?

You have the right to seek to vacate the judgment, even if your wages are currently being garnished. Once the judgment is successfully vacated, the court could order all of the funds to be returned to you, and the garnishment has come to an end.

8. What if I never received a notice of a lawsuit before my wages were garnished?

The creditor is required to serve you papers if you are being sued. If you never got served, it is very likely that the judgment will be vacated, even in cases of a change of address or wrong address.

9. Can a creditor garnish my wages as well as freeze my bank account at the same time?

If your wages are currently being garnished at the maximum legal amount, it is not likely that you will face a bank account freeze. The remainder of your wages after the maximum garnishment are also exempt from debt collection actions, even when the wages have been deposited in a bank account.

10. Can I have my wages garnished for two debts concurrently?

Yes, but only up to the maximum amount allowable by law. Usually the first creditor to get a judgment takes the maximum amount until the debt is paid, and then the second creditor starts the garnishment to collect on that debt.

11. How does wage garnishment work?

Here are the basic steps to garnishing your wages:

· Private debt collection starts with a lawsuit being filed against you.

· A judgment is acquired from the court.

· A notice of execution is sent to a New York City Marshall that states the creditor has the judgment and has the right to garnish your wages.

· You must be served by the Marshal with a copy of this income execution within 20 days.

· After being served the notice of execution by the Marshal, you have 20 days to contact the Marshal and arrange a voluntary repayment plan.

· If you don’t contact the Marshal within the 20 day time limit, the Marshal will serve the income execution to your employer, who will then begin to garnish your wages, and is obligated to do so.

· The Marshal must send you a statement of your debt account, which outlines how much has been paid since the garnishment, and how much is left to pay, which will be issued to you periodically.

12. Can my employer fire me if I was subject to a court order for wage garnishment?

If this is the first time you have had your wages garnished, the employer does not have the right to fire you. If this is your second or more garnishment, the employer has the legal right to dismiss you from employment.

13. What if I can’t vacate the judgment but can’t afford the loss of income due to wage garnishment?

In these cases, you have several options. If you were denied the vacation, you can ask the court for a modification. This is called an “order to show case” which is filed to decrease the amount being taken from your paycheck. This action gives you the ability to prove that you cannot afford the amount of the garnishment. The proof that must be submitted includes your proof of income, rent, your bills and all monthly expenses, which strengthens your position with the court. If you simply cannot afford to pay for the critical necessities such as food, rent, utilities or medical care, the court is very likely to modify the amount of the garnishment to a lower amount.

Contact Lebedin Kofman LLP today for assistance in stopping wage garnishment.

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