The main exemptions are:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
- Social Security Disability, Retirement and Survivor benefits
- Veterans benefits
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits
- Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Child Support you receive
- Federal student loans
- Retirement pensions
- The home you live in. Your home is exempt if you have up to $125,000 equity in your home OR you can claim the median sale price of a single family home in your county the previous calendar year, if that is more than $125,000.
* Equity is the amount of money you would keep after you sold your home and paid off the mortgage and other liens. You can find the median sale price of homes in your county at wcrer.be.uw.edu/archived-reports.
- Money in your bank account
- $2,500 is exempt if your only judgment is for private student loan debt
- $2,000 is exempt if the judgment you are being garnished for is consumer debt (see below)
- $500 in your bank account is exempt for all other debts (plus $1,000 cash, for a total exemption of $1,500)
* Most garnishments of wages and bank accounts are judgments for consumer debt. These include debts from credit cards, doctor and hospital bills, utility bills, phone bills, personal loans from a bank or credit union, debts owed to a landlord or former landlord, or any other debt for personal, family, or household purposes.
Automatic Exemption: Even though some or all the money in your account may be exempt from garnishment, the bank may not take the money from your account above the following amounts:
- $1,000 is automatically exempt if your only judgment is for private student loan debt
- $1,000 is automatically exempt if the judgment you are being garnished for is consumer debt
- $500 in your bank account is exempt for all other debts (and $1,000 additional cash, for a total exemption of up to $1,500)
* Example: You have $1,700 in your bank account. The bank gets a writ of garnishment from the creditor for consumer debt. The bank will freeze $700 because $1,000 is automatically protected. (This means $1,000 will remain in your account and is available to you.) The remaining $700 is still exempt because $2,000 in a bank account is protected. However, you must file an exemption claim form to get the extra $700 released to you. Read How to Claim Personal Property Exemptions.
- Wages (pay from your job) — The amount of exempt wages depends on how much you earn and what the judgment was for.
- Consumer judgments (for consumer debt)
If you earn less than any of these amounts, all of your wages are exempt:
- $507.15 weekly (35x the state minimum hourly wage)
- $1,014.30 every 2 weeks
- $1,098.83 twice a month
- $2,197.65 monthly
Even if you earn more than these amounts, you may still keep 35x the state minimum hourly wage or 80% of your net pay, whichever is more.
* Net pay is your earnings after subtracting mandatory deductions. Mandatory deductions include Social Security, Medicare, and federal income taxes.
- Private student loan judgments
- If you earn less than any of these amounts and your only judgment is for a private student loan, all of your wages are exempt.
- $877.00 weekly (50x the highest minimum hourly wage in the state)
- $1,754.00 every 2 weeks
- $1,900.17 twice a month
- $3,800.33 monthly
Even if you earn more than these amounts, you may still keep 50x the highest minimum hourly wage in the State or 85% of your net pay, whichever is more
- Other judgments (not consumer or private loan judgments)
- If you earn less than any of these amounts, all of your wages are exempt.
- $253.75 weekly
- $507.50 every 2 weeks
- $549.79 twice a month
- $1,099.58 monthly
Even if you earn more than these amounts, you may still keep 35x the federal minimum wage or 75% of your net pay, whichever is more.
- Clothing and jewelry —up to $3,500 in value.
- Books and digital media—up to $3,500 in value.
- All “professionally prescribed health aids” for you and your dependents. Examples: wheelchairs and motorized scooters, if your doctor wrote a note or prescription for them.
- Household goods, appliances, furniture, food/groceries (provisions), and fuel, up to $6,500 in value for one person, and $13,000 for a married couple. (No one (1) thing can be more than $750.)
- Equity in one motor vehicle used for personal transportation, valued at up to $3,250 for one person. For married couples, two such vehicles with a combined value up to $6,500.
- Tools and instruments needed for your trade, up to $10,000 in value.
- Money paid or owed to you for bodily injury (not including for pain & suffering or money you lost) of yourself or dependents, up to $20,000.
- Compensation for lost future earnings, to the extent reasonably necessary to support you and your dependents.