Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process to garnish the wages of a civilian federal employee for a commercial debt?

The creditor must serve garnishment documents on DFAS at the address or fax number below.

Garnishment Operations-HGA 
P.O. Box 998002   
Cleveland OH 44199-8002
Fax: 877-622-5930

The garnishment must direct the employing agency to withhold money from the employee's wages and pay them to either the creditor or the court. State law directs the garnishment process. For questions regarding state law, we recommend that you consult a private attorney.

What is the process to garnish the wages of a member of the military?
Members of the active duty military are not subject to garnishment for commercial debt; however, their pay can be attached through the military involuntary allotment process. See Military Commercial Debt.
Are military or civil service retirees subject to garnishment?
No. Retired military members' pay is exempt from garnishment for commercial debts.  Under the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act, child support, spousal support, or a property division are allowable.
Why was a garnishment rejected if the order required the government to hold the money in escrow and pay at a later time?
The garnishment must provide for payments to be sent to either the court or the creditor. The DoD pay systems have no way to escrow (hold) money pending further order of the court.
What is the maximum that can be received on a garnishment?
Under federal law the maximum amount a creditor can receive is 25percent of disposable earnings, unless state or local law provides a lower maximum amount. The applicable federal statute is the Consumer Credit Protection Act and is found at 15 U.S.C. 1673.
How are disposable earnings determined?
The amounts subject to garnishment and items excluded from garnishment to arrive at the amount of disposable earnings are specified in the Code of Federal Regulations at 5 C.F.R. part 582.
What happens if the employee is paying child support?
If the support garnishment is taking more than 25 percent of disposable earnings, we cannot honor the commercial garnishment. By federal law, child support has priority over commercial garnishments.
What happens if DFAS gets more than one commercial garnishment on the same person?
If we receive more than one commercial garnishment, we will pay them on a first-come, first-servedbasis. We will "stack" the later-served garnishment in the pay system. Orders that have no expiration date will retain their priority. Orders that are time limited will lose their priority once they expire.
What kind of information does DFAS need on the employee to identify the debtor/ employee?
Provide the employee's name and full social security number (SSN). Without the SSN, we cannot process the garnishment.
Can a subpoena be served on DFAS to obtain pay or employment related information about an employee?
Yes, however, the Privacy Act of 1974 requires that the subpoena be signed by a judge.
Is there any cost involved with serving a garnishment on DFAS?
Yes, the employee will be charged an administrative fee of $75. This amount will be deducted from the employee at the time the garnishment is started.
What happens to a garnishment if the debtor files bankruptcy?
We are required to comply with the bankruptcy court-ordered "automatic stay." When a bankruptcy is filed, the garnishment will be terminated.
Our jurisdiction requires an original signature on all answers filed with the court. Why don't you sign and notarize answers?
Federal regulation does not require government agencies to sign or notarize answers, notwithstanding state law. Our standardized answer form complies with 5 CFR § 582.303.