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Can the IRS take my social security?

There is a little bit of good news here. Social Security benefits are immune from garnishment from a wide variety of debts. If you have outstanding credit card debt or medical bills, your social security benefits are safe.

If you owe the government, however, there is not the same level of protection. The up side here, is that even Uncle Sam is not able to take 100 percent of your social security payments.

Here’s what you’ll want to know about what the government can take from your social security benefits.

It starts with who you owe

The amount the government can take from your social security payments depends on who you owe. There are a few debts that give the government the ability to garnish your social security benefits, including:

  • Federal income taxes
  • Federal student loans
  • Debt owed to other federal agencies (other than taxes)
  • Defaulted federal home loans

What they can take

While the IRS is not able to take all your Social Security benefits, they can take a portion each month until the debt is payed. For back taxes, for example, the IRS can take up to 15 percent of your benefits.

Through the Federal Payment Levy Program, the government can garnish your social security payments until the tax debt is payed.

Supplemental Security Income

There’s good news for those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). No matter what the debt, SSI is off limits for IRS collections. While this may not solve all the problems of having Social Security benefits garnished, it can still be useful.

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