Protect Your Social Security and SSI
Authored By: Legal Services Alabama
Creditors and other people with a judgment against you will often have the Sheriff serve papers on your bank. The papers tell the bank to use your account to pay the judgment. Answer five important questions in this document to see if you can protect your money.
Answer five important questions:
1. Do you have a bank account?
2. Is all or most of the money in the account from social security or SSI?
3. Has anyone sued you?
4. Has anyone ever gotten a judgment against you?
5. Is that judgment still unpaid?
If you answer all five questions "yes," you can take steps to protect your money.
Creditors and other people with a judgment against you will often have the Sheriff serve papers on your bank. The papers tell the bank to use your account to pay the judgment. While your bank decides what to do, it will freeze your account. This keeps you from getting at your money, and it could cause checks you have written to bounce.
If all the money in your account comes from Social Security, SSI, VA or Civil Service retirement money, it is exempt from almost all creditors. No one can use legal papers to get at your money for any debt other than child support, alimony or a debt to the federal government. This means that you can keep the Sheriff from taking it. You need to do two things to help make sure that the Sheriff does not take it:
First, make sure that the only money in your account is from Social Security, SSI, VA or Civil Service retirement. Take the other money out and either put it in a different account or use it for things you need.
Second, tell your bank that all the money is exempt. It is best to give your bank something in writing. You can print, fill out and use this notice form.
If the Sheriff serves papers on your bank, your bank should answer that all your money is exempt. It should not freeze your account.
If your bank freezes your account anyway, you need to file a claim of exemptions. You should call a lawyer. Click here for a list of Legal Services offices in Alabama.
You need your Social Security and SSI money. Please take these easy steps to protect it.
Reviewed August 2008
AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online at intake.alsp.org.