How Social Security can garnish your pension: this is what they could take away from you

One of the functions of Social Security, given that it is the body that pays pensions and other benefits, is to control that the beneficiary of these aids is up to date with their debts or, if they have them, settle them with their creditors. For this reason, and always under the protection of the law, it has the power to seize part of a pension (of any type) to proceed with the payment of those amounts owed.

The seizure of these pensions does not mean that the body cuts them off in their entirety: it simply guarantees the pensioner an amount that allows them to survive with sufficient ease and seizes the rest of the amount to pay those debts that the beneficiary has.

That limit amount that cannot be seized is the Minimum Interprofessional Salary (SMI). In accordance with the Law of Civil Procedure, all those pensions and benefits of less than the SMI are unattachable, which is currently 965 euros per month in 14 payments and 1,125.83 euros in 12 payments.

How much of the pension is garnished

How does the embargo of pensions by Social Security work, which is also used to garnish wages in order to pay off debts. It is a mechanism that works in sections of which a certain percentage is seized, in the style of personal income tax. These sections are the following:

-From the SMI to double the SMI, 30% of that amount may be seized.

-From double the SMI to triple the SMI, 50% of that amount may be seized.

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-From triple the SMI to quadruple the SMI, 60% of that amount may be seized.

-From four times the SMI to five times the SMI, 75% of that amount may be seized.

-From the quintuple of the SMI, 90% of these amounts are seized.

The Civil Procedure Law explains that if the person in question has more than one benefit (or if he receives, for example, a pension and works at the same time) the amount of all of them will be added to count as a single amount from from which seizures are made.

The family of the person with debts also has effects on the embargoes: in case of having family responsibilities they will be 15% lower (except from five times the SMI) and, in case the spouse is not united in separation of assets their benefits and salaries will also be cumulative.

A practical example

The best way to see how these embargoes are carried out is in an exemplary way. Imagine a pensioner without family responsibilities who receives a contributory retirement pension of 2,000 euros per month. This person will have the first 965 euros intact, of which nothing will be deducted, but 30%, 321.66 euros, will be subtracted from the following 965 euros.

Of the remaining 70 euros that are missing until reaching 2,000 euros, 50% would be removed, that is, 35 euros. Added to the previous 321.66 euros, the result is 376 euros that will be deducted from the pension every month at least until you pay off your debts or your economic situation changes.

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Exceptions in Social Security liens

However, there are two exceptions by which they can be seized even below the Minimum Interprofessional Salary.

The first one refers to the amounts for child support payments or to the spouse. The Law of Civil Procedure explains in its article 608 that in all the pensions derived from a judicial sentence, the judge will determine the amount to be paid.

The second one refers to the refund of amounts unduly collected from Social Security. In these cases, the jurisprudence, through several rulings, has reduced the limit of the embargo on the non-contributory retirement pension: 421,140 euros per month. However, you have to go to article 4 of the to know what percentages can be seized:

-Between 21% and 30% if the pension is equal to or greater than half of the maximum pension.

-Between 15% and 20% if the pension is less than half of the maximum pension and greater than the minimum retirement pension for people over 65 years of age.

-Between 10% and 14% for pensions less than the minimum retirement pension.

The regulations explain that if with these cuts the entire debt cannot be paid in five years, the percentages could be increased to comply with the payment in that period of time. In addition, the interested party himself has the possibility of increasing the amounts seized if he so communicates.

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