Military Wage Garnishments

August 12, 2023


What if your judgment debtor works for the army, navy, air force, marines, or some other variety of Department Of Defense-related employer? In this case, judgment owners may attempt to recover their judgments using wage attachments; however there are some differences, when compared to regular wage levies. 

alien from Mars Attacks

To check whether your judgment debtor is in the military, be sure to have their full name and SSN, and then visit www.dmdc.osd.mil/scra/owa/home, or call one of these numbers:
USAF: 210-652-5774
USA: 703-325-3732
USCG: 202-267-1340
USMC: 703-784-3942
USN: 703- 614-3155
To get a directory of all military phone numbers, call (703) 696-6762

It is the Department Of Defense’s (DOD’s) policy that their members pay off any judgments against them. Creditors with a civil judgment against one of the military’s members, may seek enforcement of their judgment by applying for an involuntary allotment from the member’s military pay. This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

Federal law (and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act) authorizes the attachment of paychecks of active, reserve, and sometimes retired members of the military, through the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS); for the payment of child or spousal support debts, and to repay judgments.

Congress’s Hatch Act Reform Amendments of 1993 (5 USC 5520a) authorizes involuntary allotments against the paychecks of active duty and certain (reserve) military members to satisfy judgments. Be sure to read the Indebtedness Of Military Personnel, 32 C.F.R., part 112; 113 (1995) statute, before attempting this type of involuntary allotment procedure.

To attach military-related wages, do you need a writ of execution from your court? The laws related to attaching wages from debtor employees of the Department Of Defense, or the Defense Finance or Accounting Service, seem vague, and I am not a lawyer. I think it is a good idea to always get a current writ, whether or not you are required to, whenever there is a potential path to recovering assets. Unlike most other wage levy situations, you need to have the central location of the DOD/DFAS served, and wage attachments are usually called involuntary allotments.

If your judgment debtor is definitely an employee, and on salary, then as a military judgment debtor, they would be garnished through the military, a civilian judgment debtor would be garnished through whomever ever pays their wages. If your judgment debtor is an independent contractor, then you will need an assignment order.

To start a wage attachment against a debtor member of the military, or a civilian employee of the Department of Defense (DOD); send the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) an original and two copies of everything, including the Involuntary Allotment Application form (DD Form 2653) and a certified copy of your final civil court judgment. If you are the assignee of record, include your court-stamped assignment of judgment. The 2653 application needs to have the judgment debtor’s full name and social security number. The paperwork set must be served upon DFAS at this address:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service Cleveland
PO Box 998002
Cleveland, OH 44199-8002
Customer service: 1-888-DFAS411 (888-332-7411), fax: 877-622-5930.
Garnishments should be faxed to: 216-522-6960.

Your local civil Sheriff’s office (for a small fee) can use certified mail to serve the DFAS, and many other government-related employers in any state. Sheriffs can also serve levies by mail to garnish employees of the Post Office. Judgment repayments are usually limited to 25% of the judgment debtor’s disposable earnings. Child and spousal support can sometimes attach up to 60% of the judgment debtor’s disposable earnings.

Note that the DFAS requires a judgment copy to be certified, and signed by a judge, not just a court clerk. Be patient, as it can take many months (or longer) to receive a first payment.

Web sites with information related to recovering judgments against military employee debtors include: www.dfas.mil/garnishment/milcommdebt/debtcollect.html, and www.dfas.mil/garnishment.html. Also, military record searches at: www.archives.gov/st-louis/index.html”.

What if your judgment debtor’s Facebook page brags that he works for the United States Air Force MEO Office. Is that a lead to how your judgment debtor earns money? Can his military wages be levied to satisfy your judgment?

Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, failure to pay a debt is a potentially punishable offense. Contact the military base legal office where your judgment debtor works. Military personnel are required by law to pay all justified debts. Do a web search for “ucmj article 134 debt”. Then, find the telephone number of the legal office at the military base where your judgment debtor is employed. They will help you.

UCMJ article 134 describes punishments for military personnel that do not pay their debts, or the dishonorable failure to pay. To qualify for help from the military to recover your judgment, all of these elements must be true:

1) The accused was indebted to a certain person or entity in a certain sum.

2) The debt became due and payable on or about a certain date.

(3) While the debt was still due and payable the accused dishonorably failed to pay this debt.

(4) Under the circumstances, the conduct of the accused was to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces or was of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.

Usually, if you fill out the paperwork correctly and send it to the correct office, action will be swift and sure. Check out:

www.dfas.mil – a very good site with information on levies.

Another good site is: www.defense.gov/Resources/employee-resources

Also useful are: https://scra.dmdc.osd.mil/www.archives.gov/index.htmlwww.dtic.mil/dtic, and www.defense.gov.

If you have a judgment, the military levy procedure is simple: Fill out the DD2653 (Involuntary Allotment Application) form, and a certified copy of your judgment, with two copies of everything, and send it all to the Ohio office (the national military garnishment center).

Fairly soon, your levy will run until your judgment is paid (assuming, of course, that there is not another levy allotment in place, or one with higher priority does not come along). Also, you will not have to pay for a writ, or write a check to the sheriff or a process server when you attempt a military levy (garnishment).

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