How To Claim Exemption From Garnishment

If the money in your bank account or your wages have been garnished, it’s not too late to have this action reversed and your money returned to you.

It will require a court action to have this done. If you succeed in having your money returned, it does not mean that you no longer have to pay the judgment creditor, but you will have control of your money again.

Income Subject to Exemptions

The law gives judgment creditors the ability to take possession of 25 percent of a judgment debtor’s wages, but there are times when they must not take the full 25 percent. If your income level meets the amount exempting it from the full 25 percent, then you will be able to declare that too much money has been removed from your salary.

The United States Treasury may take Social Security payments, but no other entity is entitled to do this. Your Social Security payments may have been taken because they were deposited into your bank account. If this is the case, you can file an exemption because the money in your bank account was your Social Security income.

Sometimes, the benefits that Veterans receive and other government benefits may not be taken by anyone. A Veteran’s benefits are generally exempt except when the seizure is for payment of past due federal taxes or child or spousal support. There may be other exceptions for Veteran’s and other governmental benefits, but it’s possible that your Veterans or governmental benefits may qualify to be released and may be returned to you.

How to Claim Exemption from Garnishment

You may have received the Garnishment Summons Form. This form is used as a way to let you know that your wages or your bank account have been seized. It will inform you exactly which bank account has been affected and how much of your salary will be taken. There will be what is called a garnishment hearing, and you would have received the date of this hearing on your Summons.

Along with the Summons, you should also have received the Garnishment Exemption Claim Form. This form will have listed every exclusion that you can possibly claim. If you qualify for any of them, you will need to file the form with the court, and you should be granted a hearing on this matter within seven business days.

In preparation for your hearing, you will need to have documented proof as to why too much of your salary has been removed or why the money in your bank account is exempt from being taken for paying the judgment creditor. If the judge agrees that your salary or bank accounts were taken illegally, they will be released from garnishment.

Exemption Number 11

Exemption number 11 on the Claim form relates specifically to wage and bank account seizures. It’s called the Homestead exclusion, but you can qualify for it even if you don’t own a house. You may be able to take advantage of it if you are supporting dependents. For example, if you support two dependents, you will be able to claim a $500 exclusion from salary or account seizure for each dependent.

You do have a limit as to how often you can take advantage of the number 11 exclusion. In Virginia, residents are entitled to exempt $5,000 for their entire lifetimes. They may request that money be excluded several different times but once they reach $5,000, they cannot use this exclusion ever again.

If you don’t qualify for the number 11 exclusion, you have one through 10 and 12 through 22 that you may possibly be able to use to have your property returned to you. By consulting an attorney, you will have the best chances of finding the exclusions that will lead you to success.

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31 Responses to How To Claim Exemption From Garnishment

  1. sysamone says:


    i received a notice of garnishment of my wages from my employer however i did not receive an exemption letter with that notice. How do i get an exemption form? I am a single mother of two and going to school full time, it was a court ordered notice from a property rental company. I used to be on a lease with my ex-boyfriend unfortunately when i left i did not take myself off the lease and he in turn did not pay the rent, so they are garnishing my wages. please help.

  2. Jenny says:

    The quickest way to get an exemption form is by asking the court that sent you the notice of garnishment.

    The form can be unique to the state you live in so I cannot provide you with a general form. You can do a Google search for “garnishment exemption form mystate“.

    As an example, here you find a forms for Colorado.

  3. Jason C. says:

    I noticed my check was really low. I looked at my pay stub and noticed a Garnishment, I didn’t get a notice in the mail about it or from my job. Have no clue why or who is getting this garnishment from me…what can I do?


  4. Jenny says:

    First thing to do is talk to your employer and find out who is behind this garnishment. It should become clear who you are owing money.

    Then contact the creditor and find out why you did not receive the writ of garnishment. If things don’t seem right consider calling a lawyer.

  5. Sharon says:

    I had my wage garnishment lifted for a student loan (economic hardship) by agreeing to make a small monthly payment which I have been doing for the past year. But I still have my income tax refund garnished. How can I get that lifted also if I am paying monthly payments then why should they be garnishing my refund????

  6. Jenny says:

    If there is a garnishment then there must be a court order that allows your tax refund being garnished.

    Also check the repayment agreement you have obtained from the creditor and check if there is any small print you may have overlooked.

  7. Carol D. says:

    Situation: Married mom, spouse is disabled, one child. My wages have been garnished for (1) student loan (2) medical bills.
    Now I can not make rent, utilities, car gas, food, car payment, car insurance payment, and most importantly food. Every month I have to decide which of these does not get paid and in doing so incurring late fees which have just made the situation worst. My husband does not qualify for disability in Nevada for a number of reasons, he is critically ill and needs to see a doctor but we cannot afford the doctor bills. HOW CAN I GET THE GARNISHMENTS STOPPED or at a minimum reduced. I really need advise or where to turn – Carol

  8. Jenny says:

    Visit the court house where the judgment was obtained and file a motion to lower your garnishment based on hardship. You will need to bring proof of income, bills, and other household expenses from the last few months to show that you cannot manage the repayment imposed on you.

  9. Clyde J. says:

    My wife receives $550 per month in retirement. What percentage can be garnished in the State of Tennessee

  10. Jenny says:

    Government administered benefits, such as state pensions and social security, cannot be garnished by a judgment. Private pensions enjoy similar status in most states. However, if you deposit those benefits into a bank account and then co-mingle the funds with money from other, non-exempt sources, proving the exempt status of the funds may be difficult.

    read the full article at

  11. K. H. says:

    I have a problem that you may be able to help me with. I have a current garnishment out of my check. This is from a divorce judgement from 1997 and the garnishment started in 2012. I paid the money (over a property) $5K and a quick claim deed was signed. But now some Collection Company is taking this money out of my check… Just started. Do I need a Lawyer or should I file a motion on my own… ? or is there an other way?

  12. Jenny says:

    The procedure for the garnishment may have started before you signed the agreement and the collection company may not be aware of this quit claim deed.

    If they can take money out of your paycheck there should be a court order for that. It is best to contact your employer and get the details so you can do something about it.

    If you can afford it, it is always best to find a lawyer for help with your case. Especially if the collection
    company is not acting according to the law.

  13. goflyaway says:

    Help!! I have a wage garneshement for the last 2 years. It was almost paid off when now I get another court document saying there is $5k MORE to pay back. How do I get this garneshment stopped?? It says it will be active for another 5 years. What can I do??? Does bankruptcy stop the garnishment?

  14. Jenny says:

    When you file for bankruptcy a special provision of the bankruptcy code (Section 362) stops all creditors from collecting debt. This “automatic stay” may only provide temporary relief and does not wipe out the debt.

  15. Sandra G. says:

    I’m having my wages garnished and notified the collector and he won’t give me any information on the account. I was never aware of the judgment because I was never served papers for court. Could I file a motion?

  16. Jenny says:

    Your employer should have received a court order. Ask to see it so you know who you are dealing with. Then you can contact the court if you want to claim exemption.

  17. Lynda J. says:

    I am being garnished for a health club membership that I dispute but somehow they have my information. I spoke to the creditor and they asked if I worked for Chrysler and I told them no, so I am pretty sure they have the wrong person, but that’s as far as I got! Please help!

  18. Jenny says:

    You should get as much information about this garnishment from your employer as possible. Tell them that you suspect someone has stolen your identity for a purchase and you want to stop it. They should show you the court order they got to garnish your wages.

    You could get in touch with this health club and find out when this membership was activated and advise them that someone may have used your name. Have you ever been there? Do they have a written contract with your signature?

    If you have nothing to do with this health club a lawyer can solve this quickly.

  19. Mike C. says:

    I filed bankrupcty and it was discharged in 2008. For some reason, my home owner association was left off the bankrupcty and the lawyer who did my filing is claiming it is not his issue. The HOA filed a civil suit and was awarded a judgement against me. I never received notice of the suit or the judgement. I only found out when my wages were garnished at work. It appears that I can have an exemption because my earnings support my household (which is just me). I live in Alaska. If I file to get this exemption, what is the maximum percentage they can take out of my check? As it stands, I’m not left with enough money to cover bills, let alone food, gas, etc. Thank you!

  20. Jenny says:

    You can read more about calculating wage garnishment exemptions:

    This page gives you an idea of the earning exemption for Alaska:

  21. Chell says:

    I have received court documents from my employer that my wages are being garnished. I purchased a car in Louisiana, relocated to Texas, and my car was repossessed a few months later. I’ve read that wage garnishment is not possible in Texas. Does this apply in my situation as well?

  22. Jenny says:

    Wage garnishment is only allowed for certain kinds of credit in Texas. The court documents will be clear on the reason for garnishment and it should be applicable in your case but you could talk to a lawyer to verify this.

  23. Nicole says:

    I am a single mom with no income other than $50 a month in child support. I had a judgement against me for garnishment that I was unaware of. I opened a bank account to cash checks that I had been given as a gift of having my son and my sons father recently gave me $1200 in cash towards help of taking care of my son since he was only charged $50 a month for child support. The court was letting me try to get the money back, but says I need to prove that the money is exempt from garnishment. How do I prove that it was exempt when he gave me cash out of his tax refund because he claimed our son on it because I hadn’t been working?

  24. Jenny says:

    The problem is that you received the money in cash and deposited it on your bank account. You will probably need a statement in writing that states who gave you the money and what for. Then the court can consider it to be exempt from garnishment.

  25. Gina says:

    My work place received a call trying to verify employment for a wage garnishment. I am a single mother of two and have worked very hard for the past year to clean up my credit, preparing to buy a home. I was told about the call and after getting the run around I found out it was from a car repo that happened in 2001. I was never contacted my phone or mail. They had my address but I have never been contacted by anyone about this. They only contact I have had is when I contracted them and was only given very little info. How can it be to the point of garnishment when I have never been contacted? Also, why would they wait 11 years then try to get their money?

  26. Jenny says:

    A debt collector can try to collect debts for which the statute of limitations has expired. Old debt can sometimes be reactivated inadvertedly. I suggest you read this article first.

    You could also review this one.

  27. Anna says:

    I have been dealing with garnishments for 8 year now. My husband and I bought a car back in 2004. The company we was working for went out of business. I had explaned the situation to them and they said there was nothing they can do. $ months later they repoed the car. My husband and I have been garnished every since. We started out owing $8,000.00. 8 years later we know owe $12,500.00. We are getting no where on this we have paid the car off 3 times already, but the interest is what keeps adding up. Is there a law on this. I feel like they are coning me. Last year they was going to garnish my husband wages, but we put a statue of limitation on it. It was for vernon county. know that it has expired I am beeing garnished, but it is for Kramer and Frank. Is there any hope for us.

  28. Michelle Lyon says:

    my husband got letter to garnish wages on car taxes that we don’t even have the first was for a jeep we sold and that day the girl that bought the jeep paid taxes to. transfer the tag so they where paid then now there trying to garnish his wages and they said they where going to garnish. for 94 Nissan sentra which we have never owned. please help

  29. kevin says:

    I just received a summon letter about a process of garnishment from a apartment I stayed in almost 8 years. I thought the statue of limitation on things of that nature. Anyways the garnished is from a bank in which I bank with and my refund is going to that account. What can I do to stop my money from being taking away from me. I’m unemployed and that is all the money that I have. I need information on it.

  30. We are trying to file an exemption of garnishment form and we can’t find out where the garnishment is out of? Payroll won’t tell my husband where it is from.

  31. Jenny says:

    Your husband’s employer is legally obligated to provide you with copies of the garnishment paperwork. If they’re not cooperating, you may be able to threaten legal action – reviewing the laws surrounding wage garnishment in your state will give you specifics you can cite. It’s also possible that your husband could contact the local Department of Labor for some additional information.

    Typically, a wage garnishment requires a previous court judgement demanding payment. Without such a judgement, wages can only be garnished by the IRS or for student loans from the federal government. That may also help you narrow down the source of the garnishment.

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