When Pensions Can Be Garnished
Can my pension benefits be garnished by the mortgage company?
I live in Rhode Island and bought my home just about 2 years ago. When I bought the house, the loan company arranged a 1st and 2nd mortgage to cover the total cost of purchasing the home? Now, I'm nearing 55 yoa and my health has deteriorated to the point that I am looking to move to a different climate for health reasons. In addition, my health history is such that I can't even get mortgage life insurance to cover the mortgages. So I'm looking at just walking away from the house and letting the bank take it. Because I don't expect to be around this time next year, I'm not concerned about the affect on my credit rating. Here is my concern: I retired from a government job that furnishes me with a private pension. I do not expect to get another full time job and I have no health care benefits. In order to live until whenever, I will need my pension benefits to cover my living and medical expenses. So; can my pension benefits be garnished by the mortgage company? and can I be forced to sell any personal assets (car, motorcycle, or other personal property to offset the loss to the mortgage company?
- Pensions are not wages and, except for child support, cannot be garnished.
- State laws vary on wage garnishment.
- Once deposited, funds may be open to account levy.
Generally, pensions cannot be garnished, except for child support. Let us look at the rules and facts in your situation.
When home is foreclosed upon, the mortgage lender usually auctions the property at a foreclosure sale, applying whatever amount is received at the foreclosure sale to the debt owed on the mortgage. In many cases, the sale price at auction is not sufficient to cover the mortgage and other secured liens on the property, such as home equity loans; the difference between what you owe on the property and what the lenders actually receive is called a deficiency balance.
In many states, including Rhode Island, mortgage lenders can pursue borrowers for deficiency balances resulting from foreclosure on mortgage and home equity loans. To read more about the foreclosure process, visit the Bills.com foreclosure page.
If you decide to allow your home to go into foreclosure, and assuming the foreclosure sale does not cover the full amount of your mortgage or home equity loan, you will likely own a deficiency balance, which the lender could attempt to collect. Its collection efforts could range from simple collection calls and collection letters all the way to filing a lawsuit against you for the balance owed.
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If the creditor does try to sue you, and if the court grants it a judgment against you, the creditor may be able to place a lien on any real property you own. You may be able to work with the creditor to repay the debt to prevent the negative consequences of the creditor’s collection efforts. From my experience, most mortgage and lenders are willing to offer flexible repayment terms to borrowers who default on their loans.
However, if you find the deficiency balance claimed is too large to pay off within a reasonable time, or if the creditor is unwilling to work with you to establish workable payment terms, you may wish to consider filing for bankruptcy protection to resolve your deficiency balance. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in your area if you consider filing for bankruptcy protection. Visit the Bills.com bankruptcy page to learn more about this option.
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Pensions and Garnishment
In your case, bankruptcy may be the best solution, but it may not be absolutely necessary. Most pensions, like other forms of retirement income, are exempt from garnishment or attachment to repay court judgments. It is possible that you could simply allow this debt to sit unpaid indefinitely. In many cases involving retirees, the only major drawback to doing so would be the negative impact this unpaid debt would have on your credit rating.
If the lender sues and obtains a judgment against you, it could attempt to force the sale of various items of personal property to pay the outstanding debt, though this procedure is very seldom used except in those cases in which the debtor had high-value luxury items, such as a new Mercedes-Benz.
Again, consult with an attorney licensed in your state to discuss the risks and benefits of allowing this debt to go unpaid, and what action the creditor can take against you to force payments.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.