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Stop Wage Garnishment in Washington

Dena Standley | July 14, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: Wage garnishment overwhelms most debtors because it reduces their ability to get out of financial trouble. The state of Washington understands its citizens' predicament, and that's why the wage garnishment laws seek to protect consumers. These laws provide ways to stop wage garnishment and prevent garnishment before it occurs. Debt settlement is one such way to avoid wage garnishment, and SoloSettle makes settling your debt easier.

If you struggle to make ends meet and are already having difficulty managing your finances, receiving a wage garnishment order is a devastating blow. You may feel overwhelmed and worried about how you will make ends meet.

Fortunately, the state of Washington has laws to protect consumers from excessive wage garnishment. The provisions limit how much and which debts can be garnished. There are also certain procedures the creditor must follow before garnishing your wages.

In this article, we’ll break down the Washington wage garnishment laws and discuss the various ways you can stop wage garnishment.

Avoid wage garnishment through debt settlement.

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Washington wage garnishment laws can protect you

Laws that govern wage garnishment in Washington are found in Chapter 6.27 of the state’s statutes and Section 15 of U.S. Code Subchapter II of US federal laws. Below is a summary of the most crucial laws applicable to wage garnishment in Washington.

Amount Limitations

Washington State protects your wages from garnishment under three categories (RCW 6.27.150):

  • Consumer debt: The state protects 80% of your earnings or 35 times the state minimum hourly range ($15.74/hr) per week, whichever is more. This provision means the creditor can only take a maximum of 20% or start deducting if your income exceeds $550.9.

  • Private student loan: Washington protects 85% of your income, or 50 times the state's minimum hourly rate.

  • All other debts: The state protects 75% of your wages or 35 times the federal minimum hourly rate ($7.25/hr).

Here is an example to illustrate the first category.

Example: Jesse owes Central Credits $2,500 in consumer debt, and they obtained a court order to garnish his wages. Jesse earns $600 per week after taxes and deductions. 80% of 600 is $480, while 35 times 15.74/hr is $ 550.9. The greater amount is $550.9. Hence, the only amount Central Credits can deduct from Jesse's weekly income is $600–$550.9, which is $49.1.

Court order requirement

Before a debt collector can garnish your wages, they must obtain a court order by filing a lawsuit against you and getting a court judgment for wage garnishment. You must also be notified of the garnishment and have an opportunity to challenge it.

Income exemptions

Certain incomes, such as Social Security benefits, workers' compensation payments, retirement benefits, and disability benefits, are exempt from wage garnishment under Washington law.

Protection from employers

Washington law prohibits employers from retaliating against you for wage garnishment, meaning employers cannot fire, demote, or punish you simply because you face wage garnishment (RCW 6.27.170).

Understanding these laws will help you gain confidence in challenging the garnishment order using the following ways.

Object to the wage garnishment

If you face wage garnishment in Washington State, you can raise several issues to object to the garnishment. These objections ensure you are not subject to unfair or illegal wage garnishment practices. They are:

  • Incorrect amount: This issue may arise if the creditor miscalculates the garnishment amount or if multiple garnishment orders are in place.
  • Improper service: You may object to the order If you did not receive a proper garnishment notice or were not allowed to contest the garnishment order in court.
  • Exempt income: As mentioned earlier, certain incomes are exempt from wage garnishment under Washington law. If the garnishment order attempts to garnish your workers' compensation, retirement benefits, or social security benefit, you can raise it as an exemption.
  • Financial hardship: If you are experiencing financial difficulty and cannot afford the garnishment amount and meet your basic needs, then object to the order.

The court that issued the garnishment order will provide you with a form to fill out and give you a hearing court date. Afterward, the judge will decide after considering both sides' arguments.

Stop Washington wage garnishment by filing a claim of exemption

Filing a claim of exemption in Washington State is a legal process that allows you to protect a portion of your income from wage garnishment. The reason for exemption could be that your income:

  • Falls beneath the federal poverty line
  • Supports your household by more than 50%
  • Is considered a public assistance earnings
  • Is a legal benefit that the government protects

The process of filing a claim of exemption involves determining your income’s eligibility for protection, obtaining an exemption claim form, completing and filing the form with the court, attending a hearing to review the claim, and receiving a court decision on whether to grant the exemption.

For more information on how to file a claim of exemption from wage garnishment in Washington, click here.

Avoid wage garnishment through debt settlement

Debt settlement can help you prevent wage garnishment.

In a debt settlement, you offer your creditor a portion of the total amount due, usually at least 60% of the debt’s value. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the creditor agrees to drop its legal claims against you and release you from the remaining balance.

A creditor often considers negotiating a debt settlement if you promise to make a lump-sum payment and clear the remaining amount within a short period. Because of this, debt settlement usually works best if you have some cash saved or expect to receive some money soon

Settling your debt helps you avoid a judgment and wage garnishment. You’ll save some money and move on from this challenging experience.

If you decide to settle your obligation, you’ll want to ensure you get the terms of your agreement in writing and pay the creditor before your court date. If you’ve never tried debt settlement before, consider working with a professional organization that will guide you through the process.

To learn more about how to settle a debt in West Virginia, check out this video:

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is a tech-based approach to debt settlement. Our software helps you send and receive settlement offers until you reach an agreement with the collector. Once an agreement is reached, we’ll help you manage the settlement documentation and transfer your payment to the creditor or debt collector, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.

File for bankruptcy (last resort)

The decision to file for bankruptcy and which chapter to file depends on your financial situation and goals. But, it should be the last option to consider if the above methods fail to work or you do not have the money to settle the debt.

Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy helps you receive a fresh start because it discharges most of your debt. However, your credit score will be affected as it remains in your report for ten years.

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