Q: Can social security benefits be garnished for unpaid out of state (New York) medical bills if a judgment is awarded?
My father is retired, lives in Florida and receives social security benefits. In 2015 At age 64(was on ssid) he was admitted to the ER in New York (state funded hospital) while on vacation for heart related issues. Had no insurance at the times as he had been placed on social security disability that year and needed to be on said 12mo before eligibility for medical benefits began.
Last week my father was served with s lawsuit my the new York Attorney general office. He can not afford a lawyer as he has no other income source. The question is if he ignores the suit and a judgment is then awarded can his SSI benefits be garnished in Florida.
I have also been informed by a friend that because he resides in Florida and did so at time of incident that the lawsuit should have been filed in Florida, not New York. Not sure if this is true.
Any help/ advice would be greatly appreciated.
A: Generally, under Florida law, SSI cannot be garnished. However, without knowing why the NY AG sued him and because a state agency is involved, and not a private creditor, the benefits may be able to taken by other means. He should contact his county legal aid office to see if he can get some legal advice there. Ignoring a lawsuit is never a good idea.
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