February 23,2011

Press Contact:

Scott Mulhauser/Erin Shields (Baucus)

Baucus Applaudes Rules to Prevent Creditors from Seizing Social Security Checks, Veterans' Benefits

Finance Chair Long Fought for Protections to Ensure Seniors, Veterans Can Keep Their Benefits

Washington, DC – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today applauded a regulation issued by the U.S. Treasury Department that will prevent creditors from garnishing Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and veterans’ benefits, ensuring seniors and veterans have access to vital income.  Though current law prohibits banks from freezing and garnishing accounts that contain Social Security and veterans’ benefits upon creditors’ requests, a lack of clear regulations for banks has resulted in the freezing of many accounts containing these critical benefits.  Baucus has fought to end this practice because it can often create a hardship for beneficiaries who depend on those benefits each month.

“Americans pay into Social Security their entire lives, and our veterans have certainly earned their benefits as well.  Seniors and veterans have a legal right to these benefits, which is why I’ve been fighting to stop creditors from illegally garnishing them” Baucus said.  “This rule rightfully clarifies the law and will help protect the benefits seniors and veterans depend upon when they need them the most.”   

Baucus has long fought to protect Social Security beneficiaries and veterans from having their benefits garnished by creditors or frozen by banks.

In September 2007, Baucus held a Finance Committee hearing entitled, “Frozen Out: A Review of Bank Treatment of Social Security Benefits,” to examine the issue, calling officials from the Treasury Department, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Consumer Law Center as well as a Social Security beneficiary to testify before the Committee.  In November of that year, he sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting a multi-agency approach to ending these practices.  Since then, he has been working with the Treasury Department and urging them to complete the regulations released today.