SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1619. Past Debts of Beneficiaries

1619.1 Can creditors seize funds?

In order to assure an income for a beneficiary's current needs, Section 207 of the Social Security Act specifically exempts funds from seizure by creditors. However, some exceptions may apply.

1619.2 What are the exceptions?

Section 459 of the Social Security Act permits garnishment for the legal enforcement of providing child support and alimony, and the IRS may levy for taxes owed. In addition, SSA may seek refund of a Social Security or SSI overpayment.

1619.3 Should representative payees use funds to cover bills incurred before the payee began receiving the payments?

Provided the beneficiary's current and reasonably foreseeable needs are met, a representative payee may use funds to pay bills incurred by a beneficiary before the first month we began to pay benefits to the representative payee.

1619.4 What if the beneficiary owes a debt to the representative payee?

If a debt is owed to the representative payee, the payee must obtain approval from SSA prior to using funds for self-reimbursement.

1619.5 Where can a representative payee obtain further information on payment of past debts?

Refer questions concerning payment of past debts to the local Social Security office.

Last Revised: Nov. 16, 2010