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.
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.
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.
If a debt is owed to the representative payee, the payee must obtain approval from SSA prior to using funds for self-reimbursement.
Refer questions concerning payment of past debts to the local Social Security office.
Last Revised: Nov. 16, 2010