Can the pension check be garnished for my medical bills? 13 Answers as of April 17, 2014

I received a letter letting me know I could get the money all and once or $32.00 a month for life, I chose the one time lump sum of $6000. I owe several medical bills some in collections. I really need this money to pay for a loan I took out for dental work, I have my third back surgery in May they couldn't do my surgery until my teeth where fixed. Can this pension check be garnished for my medical bills? Also can my disability check be garnished for any unpaid bills? My income is $1096.00 a month, in case that matters. Should I file bankruptcy? Thank you.

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In Minnesota pension and disability income is exempt from the collection activities by debtors.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 4/17/2014
Eranthe Law Firm
Eranthe Law Firm | Cate Eranthe
A pension check can be garnished if there is a Judgment. The only way any creditors can garnish a check or levy on a bank account is if they have sued you and taken a Court Judgment. You need to see a local knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer who can advise on your situation. A lot more facts are needed to suggest if filing a bankruptcy would be helpful.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/15/2014
Portland Bankruptcy Law Group
Portland Bankruptcy Law Group | Christopher J. Kane
No, a pension check cannot be garnished. Under Oregon and federal law pension funds are exempt from the claims of creditors. The only creditor who can garnish pensions is the IRS.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 4/15/2014
GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C. | Richard N. Gonzales
Pension or Retirement money is 100% exempt from creditors (i.e., creditors can not touch this money). If you own no real estate, and your only source of income is Social Security money or retirement money, why file Bankruptcy? You are "judgment proof".
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 4/15/2014
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
In order for anyone to garnish or levy on a bank account they first must have a judgement. You should consult with local counsel as I do not have the full picture here. I suspect you can file bankruptcy and protect the $6,000.00. I do not know what state you are in. In California you could definitely protect the $6,000.00 assuming you have no other significant assets.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/15/2014
    Law Office of Shirly L. Horn | Shirley L. Horn
    If you file bankruptcy then there is no issue with garnishments at all. If the pension monies are co-mingled with other moneys in a bank account they could get hit otherwise.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    SmithMarco, P.C.
    SmithMarco, P.C. | Larry P. Smith
    No, retirement pensions are exempt from garnishment attachment.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Law Offices of Matthew J. O'Connor
    Law Offices of Matthew J. O'Connor | Matthew J. O'Connor
    I would consult with a debtors' attorney to be certain, but generally, a debtor's right to receive retirement benefits is exempt from creditors. See 40 ILCS 5/7-217 and 735 ILCS 5/12-1006.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You are bringing up a number of questions, and have not provided sufficient information to answer them. Is there a judgment entered for the medical bills? If there is no judgment there can be no garnishment. You have not disclosed to the source of your disability check, nor have you disclosed what kind of assets, or lack of you have or other debts which would be certainly necessary in considering a bankruptcy. While I am certain you do not wish to encourage additional expense I believe that you would find it well worth your time to engage an attorney for a short period of time to discuss your situation and seek a recommendation and plan of action.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    Pension, retirement and social security checks cannot be garnished from the source, but it is possible that these sources of income can be attached from your bank account under some "worse case" circumstances. First, the creditor must sue you and obtain a court judgment. Second, if the bank account contains money from more than one source, even if all the sources are related or all all protected under state or federal law, if a judge decides that the money is "comingled" the protection you enjoy evaporates.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/15/2014
    At the outset, your property cannot be attached or wages garnisheed until the creditor has a judgment against you. Assuming that you have not commingled your pension funds with other money and have the paperwork to establish that it is a pension distribution, those funds could be exempt from attachment. Disability payments are generally exempt from execution. You could be a candidate for bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 4/15/2014
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