Money Judgments & Default Judgments

If the creditor or debt collector gets a money judgment against you, they may be able to have the marshal take money from your wages or from your bank account to pay the judgment. However, there are certain types of income that cannot be used to satisfy a money judgment in a collection action. The following funds are exempt from being used to satisfy a money judgment in a collection action:

  • Social Security Disability (SSD);
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  • Social Security retirement benefits;
  • Disability benefits;
  • Workers’ compensation benefits;
  • Public assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF));
  • Any income you earn while receiving SSI or public assistance.

If you do not answer the summons and the creditor obtains a default judgment against you, there is a way to undo or vacate the default judgment. You should go to court and file an Order to Show Cause. This is a legal paper that the court will sign, ordering the plaintiff to appear in court and give a good reason why the judgment should not be vacated, or un-done. In the Order to Show Cause, you will have to explain to the court why you did not appear in court or file an answer, such as you did not receive the summons, or you were sick, or out of the country. You will also have to explain whether you have any defenses to the action, such as you do not owe the money, or you already paid the money.

Legal Editors: Steven Bennett and David Kassell, July 2015

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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