Can a Debt Collector Garnish My Workers’ Compensation?

Sometimes, when a person has financial obligations, an outside entity can garnish their wages. Essentially, this means the organization can automatically take a portion of someone’s income.

Who Can Garnish My Wages?

Normally, debt collectors have this authority. They cannot, however, simply start taking your money. First, they must get permission from either you or a court. When going through the court, creditors file an official lawsuit.

The initial deal will decide what they can take, how much, and how often. Typically, they cannot take more than 25% of someone’s disposable income.

Sometimes the government orders garnishment to deal with past debt. This often happens in cases where someone owes child support. When the state needs payment for legal concerns, it can order a garnishment above 25%.

How Does Garnishment Affect My Job?

When it comes to wage garnishment, California has protections for both workers and employers. If you have only one wage garnishment against you, you cannot be fired. However, employers have the right to fire someone with multiple garnishments.

Are There Any Restrictions on Garnishment?

Standards vary from state to state. Some allow garnishments on your benefits, others do not.

California protects multiple forms of income from garnishment. These include:

  • Social Security
  • Unemployment
  • Disability Income
  • IRA Lump Sum Distributions
  • Workers’ Compensation

Therefore, you should not experience garnishment on your workers’ compensation income in California. The law assumes that you still need to cover daily expenses, and people who receive income benefits usually aren’t making much money from another job.

What if My Garnishment Is Too High?

Make sure you always keep good records of any money that is coming in and going out. Keep tabs on the percentages that are going to debtors or the government. If your garnishment exceeds 25%, even by just a little, you need to appeal to the courts. Make sure to get help from a good attorney before taking this step.

What If My Workers’ Compensation Is Garnished Illegally?

To repeat, California does not allow garnishment on your worker’s comp benefits. If you see any portion of that money going to a creditor, even if it’s for the government, you need to take swift action.

Call a good attorney who can help you straighten out this mess. In the best-case scenarios, this garnishment is a clerical error, and your lawyer can help make sure the situation is fixed.

In more insidious situations, someone may be actively breaking the law. When that is the case, you definitely need a strong lawyer by your side.

If necessary, your attorney can take the matter all the way to court, holding this disreputable creditor accountable. You may be even able to sue this entity. This could force them to compensate you for your lost wages and your troubles. The court may even order the creditor to pay you punitive damages, which is extra money designed to punish fraudulent behavior.

If you’re concerned about whether your workers’ comp has been unjustly garnished, reach out to our firm right away. We may be able to help correct this problem. Our number is (714) 909-2609, and you can contact us online.

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