ALEXANDRIA, Va. (8/19/11)—In a recent Regulatory Alert (11-RA-04), the National Credit Union Administration offers guidance intended to help credit unions comply with an joint interim final rule that addresses garnishment of accounts that include federal benefits payments. The joint rule was issued by the U.S. Treasury, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Railroad Retirement Board, and the Office of Personnel Management and pertains to the following benefit payments:
* Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits; * Veterans benefits; * Federal Railroad retirement, unemployment and sickness benefits; * Civil Service Retirement System benefits; and * Federal Employees Retirement System benefits.
The rule covers all financial institutions that receive certain directly deposited federal benefit payments, including federal and state-chartered credit unions, and requires financial institutions that receive a garnishment order for an account to determine whether any federal benefit payments were deposited to the account within 60 days prior to receipt of the order. The rule aims to "ensure that benefit recipients have access to exempt funds" while garnishment orders are being resolved. The NCUA guidance advises that a credit union, within two days of receiving a garnishment order, must first determine whether the order was obtained by the United States or a state child support enforcement agency. To make this determination, the credit union may rely on the “Notice of Right to Garnish Federal Benefits” it receives. For these kinds of orders, all money in the account is subject to garnishment. The NCUA letter also discusses matters of account review, notice requirements, and other provisions, such as the correct way to handle a statutory lien. Use the resource link below to read the complete guidance.