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Published: 2008-03-26

Commonly Asked Questions About Commercial Garnishments



  1. What is your address? Your telephone number?
    Defense Finance and Accounting Service
    Cleveland Center, Code L
    PO Box 998002
    Cleveland, Ohio 44199-8002
    (216) 522-5301 (Customer Service)
  2. What is the Garnishment Operations Fax Number?
    Commercial (216) 522-6960 or DSN 580-6960

    In improving the processes in the Garnishment Operations we are now using a fax gateway directly into our Electronic Document Management System. To ensure your document is processed in a timely and efficient manner you must include the following information on the fax document and follow the additional guidance provided:

    • Member/Employee Social Security Number (SSN) - Court Orders/Documents will not be processed if the SSN is not on the document
    • Return Phone Number
    • Return Fax Number
    • Ensure original documents are clear and legible
    • In each fax transmission, include only correspondence for one member or employee (if you have multiple documents for one member, they can be sent on one fax transmission)
  3. How does one garnish the wages of a civilian Federal employee for a commercial debt?
    The creditor must serve a withholding order on the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Cleveland Center. The order must direct the United States government to withhold monies from the employee's wages and pay them to either the creditor or the court. Your State law directs the garnishment process and, therefore, you may want to contact an attorney for more information.
  4. How does one 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. In order to attach the pay of an active duty service member, a creditor must submit the following documents: DD Form 2653 (Involuntary Allotment Application) and a copy of the final judgment, certified by the clerk of court. The creditor must send an original DD Form 2653; an original certified copy of the final judgment and three (3) copies of the entire package. The package must be served on the Cleveland Center at the above address.
  5. Are military or civil service retirees subject to garnishment?
    No, the new commercial debt law only applies to active civilian employees and active duty military personnel.
  6. A garnishment was rejected because the order required the government to withhold money from the employee's wages, but not to send any money to the court until later. What happened?
    The wage order MUST provide for payments to be sent to either the court or the creditor. The Department of Defense pay systems have no way to escrow money pending further order of the court. The government regulations governing this new law do not require the pay systems to vary their pay cycle in order to comply with a garnishment.
  7. How much money can one receive on a garnishment?
    Under Federal law the maximum amount a creditor can receive is 25% of disposable earnings, unless a lower maximum amount is provided by state or local law. The applicable Federal statute is the Consumer Credit Protection Act is found at 15 U.S.C. 1673.
  8. 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.
  9. What happens if the employee is paying child support?
    If the support garnishment is taking more than 25% of disposable earnings the commercial garnishment order will not be honored. By federal law, child support has priority over commercial garnishments.
  10. What happens if DFAS gets more than one commercial garnishment on the same person?
    If more than one commercial garnishment is received, the agency shall satisfy such orders in order, based on the time of service. These will be "stacked" 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.
  11. What kind of information does DFAS need on the employee to identify the debtor/ employee?
    You need to provide the debtor's name and Social Security number. The Social Security number is absolutely essential. Without that number the agency cannot process the wage withholding order.
  12. Can one serve a subpoena 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.
  13. 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 processed.
  14. What happens to a garnishment if the debtor files bankruptcy?
    The agency is required to comply with the Bankruptcy court-ordered "automatic stay." When a bankruptcy is filed the garnishment will be terminated.

    Last updated: March 12, 1999 at 07:17