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.