Freeport, IL asked in Consumer Law, Civil Litigation, Collections and Social Security for Illinois

Q: I'm on SSI Disability can I be garnished by a collection agency about a credit card that I've been unable to pay on?

It's a collection agency who is taking me to court tomorrow via a zoom call. I've not been able to pay on it due to everything going up in price and I live on a very low income and am behind on my water bill and several other bills. I was behind on rent until just recently, over a year and I'm lucky I was not evicted. My main concern is keeping a roof over my head which I'm barely doing and if they should garnish my federal SSI I'd end up homeless. Please tell me if they can get a judgement against me? I heard of an article number and can't remember it now but it said to tell the judge this article number?

1 Lawyer Answer
Bryan R. Bagdady
Bryan R. Bagdady
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Oakbrook Terrace, IL
  • Licensed in Illinois

A: Your inability to pay does not stop the entry of judgment. If there is already a judgment and you are up on a post judgment citation or garnishment, you should read and be aware of the exemption provisions of the post judgment code of civil procedure. Specifically, 735 ILCS5/2-1402 states at (b)(1) that Under Illinois or federal law, the exemptions of personal property owned by the debtor include the debtor's equity interest, not to exceed $4,000 in value, in any personal property as chosen by the debtor; Social Security and SSI benefits; public assistance benefits; unemployment compensation benefits; worker's compensation benefits; veteran's benefits; circuit breaker property tax relief benefits; the debtor's equity interest, not to exceed $2,400 in value, in any one motor vehicle, and the debtor's equity interest, not to exceed $1,500 in value, in any implements, professional books, or tools of the trade of the debtor.

This means that SSI income cannot be taken and you have what is known as a "wildcard" exemption for $4000. Any single asset that the judgment creditor tries to take, can be universally protected up to the sum of $4000. This does not apply on a per asset basis. It is a one-time cloak. Between the SSI exemption and the $4000 wildcard exemption you should be able to provide yourself with some protection. Hope this helps.

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