When Can a Creditor Start Garnishing Your Wages? | McCarthy
December 1, 2021

When Can a Creditor Start Garnishing Your Wages? 

It is no secret that being in debt lowers your credit score. However, did you know that being in debt may result in a creditor garnishing your wages? While you might not have to worry about wage garnishment until your debt has been delinquent for several months, knowing its basics is beneficial. If you are struggling to keep up with your debt payments, contact the attorneys at McCarthy Law. They may be able to guide you through repayment and lower the amount you owe. 

What Is Wage Garnishment? 

Wage garnishment is a legal action where a court orders an employer to withhold paychecks from an employee for debt repayment. Wage garnishment means that your employer is legally obligated to withhold a set amount of earnings that a court sets. 

Wage garnishment may continue until you pay off your debt. However, some states have time limitations for how many years a creditor may garnish wages. Additionally, a court may halt wage garnishment if the individual loses their job or faces severe financial hardship. 

Courts will also notify you regarding the wage garnishment and send a letter to your bank or employer. Wage garnishment typically begins five to 30 days after court approval, but the exact time will vary depending on the creditor and the state. 

How Much of My Paycheck May a Creditor Garnish? 

There are limitations on how much a creditor can garnish your wages. However, that amount depends on your income and the type of debt you owe. There may also be additional factors that may limit how much they can garnish from each paycheck. 


Judgments are court orders that result from a lawsuit, but courts only report civil judgments to the credit bureaus. These judgments are court rulings specific to debt repayment. When a judgment is made against you and you do not repay the debt, a creditor may sue you. If a judge rules against you, the creditor may garnish your wages up to whichever is lower of the following amounts: 

  • 25% of your disposable earnings
  • Any amount greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 

You should also know that your employer must notify you when wage garnishment begins and how to request a hearing. 

Student Loans 

The Department of Education or an agency collecting on its behalf may garnish up to 15% of your pay after defaulting on student loan payments. Student loans are different because they do not require a lawsuit to proceed with wage garnishment. Once you default on your loans, garnishment can begin immediately. 

However, you need to be informed in writing at least 30 days before wage garnishment begins. Furthermore, the letter must include the amount you owe and how to: 

  • Obtain a copy of records relating to your loan
  • Enter into a voluntary repayment agreement
  • Request a hearing on the proposed wage garnishment 

Contact the Debt Attorneys at McCarthy Law Today 

If you are facing wage garnishment over unpaid debts, contact the attorneys at McCarthy Law. Our debt attorneys may be able to help manage your debt and repair your credit. Additionally, if you have student loan debt, we may negotiate with private lenders to possibly reduce the amount and interest owed. To learn more about how our debt attorney can help, call (855) 976-5777 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

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