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Employer Bulletin

All WRS Employers
Vol. 22, No. 7
April 15, 2005

New Critical Information From Social Security: Wage Garnishment


Effective on or about April 15, 2005, Social Security will begin using administrative wage garnishment to collect delinquent debts owed by former beneficiaries of the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. Wage garnishment is a process in which an employer withholds up to 15% from an employee’s disposable wages and pays that money to the employee’s creditor until the debt is paid or otherwise resolved. Administrative wage garnishment is authorized by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 and does not require a court order. The final regulations for the administrative wage garnishment became effective in 2004.

In February 2005, Social Security notified debtors that wage garnishment may be used to collect debts and offered debtors the opportunity to dispute the debt or repay it before garnishment begins. For debtors failing to respond to the notice, Social Security will determine the debtor’s employer and begin mailing garnishment orders to employers on or about April 15, 2005.

Please note that employers failing to comply with a wage garnishment order can become liable for amounts that should have been withheld from the worker’s pay as well as punitive damages. Also, employers cannot fire or take disciplinary action against an employee on the basis of wage garnishment.

Social Security will send a monthly notice to employers with updates on the status of the debt. Employers having questions regarding a wage garnishment order should contact Social Security at the telephone number shown on the order.

If you would like additional information regarding this process, visit the Social Security Internet site and click on Administrative Wage Garnishment at the In the News segment.

Please share the information in this bulletin with those responsible for complying with wage garnishment orders. Your assistance in collecting this debt will benefit the nation’s Social Security and SSI programs, which provide needed assistance to millions of elderly and disabled people and their families.

Employers with questions about this bulletin should contact ETF’s Employer Communication Center at (608) 264-7900.


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