Forum Rules (Everyone Must Read!!!) (updated: 04/28/2015)

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Protected Income & Bank Accounts

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  • Protected Income & Bank Accounts

    I have read several articles on this subject and found it to be confusing if not contrary at times.

    It is my understanding that Social Security and ERISA pensions are generally considered safe from garnishment from collectors. However, I came across this article that cautions against mixing SS with other funds even ERISA pensions. Apparently a ERISA pension is protected until it is deposited into a bank account. The recommendation in this article is to cash the pension check out.

    Can anyone shed some light on the subject?

  • #2
    Yes, For Social Security you want to set up an account that is only used for SS Direct deposit. You should never make any other deposits into that account. You should make no other deposits into that account even if you are redepositing your SS money into that account. You can obtain a direct deposit only account at Coamerica banks us direct express web site by calling the telephone number. I don't know anything about your pension account. What does Federal or State law say is what you will have to investigate or talk to a bankruptcy lawyer. You must be aware that if you co-mingle your SS money in a bank account with other money if a seizure does occur your burden will be very high to prove that SS money only was seized.


    • #3

      Nolo is an excellent source for BK info.


      • #4
        Originally posted by nioka View Post
        I have read several articles on this subject and found it to be confusing if not contrary at times.
        That will happen a lot when you rely on sources like and other sites where anybody can be a contributor. It's a good start for research, but pay close attention to your information sources and verify anything you read by somebody you know nothing about (including me).

        I know you can protect your social secirty funds by keeping them separate from other funds as kilowatt suggests. I don't know if that is true of ERISA qualified pension plans.
        LadyInTheRed is in the black!
        Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
        $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!


        • #5
          I have read both that ERISA pensions are protected same as SS. I have also read ERISA pensions are not protected after they are disbursed. Nolo ins't clear on the subject or perhaps doesn't go into that much depth.

          I think the safe way to do it as suggested is to keep the SS account separate. I can request my pension come as a check and cash it out. That should keep everything safe.


          • #6
            Don't forget the Direct Express card for direct deposit. You can withdraw all the deposit free at any bank (one free bank withdrawal a month). You can also let the money accumulate on that and no creditors except the IRS or domestic support order can touch it.

            Theoretically, your federal government deposits are untouchable for up to a certain (?) time after direct deposit, but if by chance you account should be wrongly garnished or frozen, you're out of that money for however long it takes to get it back.


            • #7
              I finally found this link again.

              I believe the article states that any SS funds deposited during the "look-back" period is protected. The "look-back" period is defined as two months. I assume that as SS benefits are issued monthly then the total amount of protection would be defined as the total of two months of SS benefits. Therefore if a person received $1000 per month in a direct deposit their bank account would be protected up to two months of SS benefits or $2000.


              Is Direct Express for SS only or can it cover ERISA pensions also?


              • #8
                Direct Express card

                The Direct Express is only for government benefits like Social Security, RRB, OPM and military pensions. But, other prepaid cards accept direct deposit of Social Security benefits and good luck for the creditors to find them, then grab them. There have been discussions here that say, theoretically, any funds on a prepaid card could be garnished, but no one here has heard of it happening yet. Some have said to get cards that from companies outside of your home state.
                Last edited by sbatman; 02-02-2014, 02:11 PM. Reason: grammar


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