Garnishment Laws When Below the Poverty Level

When there’s a wage garnishment against you, your employer is required to withhold earnings from your paychecks until a debt is satisfied. The amount varies. For instance, if a creditor such as a credit-card company obtains a judgment against you they can garnish approximate 25 percent of your wages. However, for debts such as taxes, child support, student loans and alimony, about 50 percent can be withheld. However, a wage garnishment depends on your income.

Employers can't fire you because of a wage garnishment.

Eliminating the Wage Garnishment

Although the amount of the wage garnishment protects an individual from an excessive wage garnishment, people who are below the poverty line have an additional protection. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), after a wage garnishment, you must be left with 30 times the current federal minimum wage. As of July 2009, the federal minimum wage was $7.25 per hour. This means that your garnishment may not be applied if you don’t have enough money, commonly referred to as disposable income, to take. Disposable income or earnings is the amount of money left after your required deductions such as Social Security, local, state and federal taxes and state employee retirement systems.

Protesting a Wage Garnishment

Let’s say you have enough disposable income for a wage garnishment. However, after you pay all your monthly bills you don’t have enough money to live. Then you can go to the local court which granted the garnishment to protest the garnishment. After you file a motion protesting the wage garnishment, you’ll receive a hearing before a judge. During the hearing, you will submit your bills such as rent, monthly prescriptions and utilities to the judge as evidence. Also, you’ll argue that the garnishment is precluding you from supporting yourself. If the judge grants your motion, the wage garnishment will stop.

Receiving Public Assistance and Wage Garnishment

Generally, if you’re receiving public benefits such as welfare, Social Security and unemployment insurance, creditors can’t garnish your wages. However, if your wage garnishment is for alimony or child support, then your public benefits can be garnished, according to Nolo, a legal information resource. This means that your wage garnishments for creditors such as credit-card companies and debt-collection agencies can’t be applied because you’re under the poverty line.