Claim of Exemption from Wage Garnishment

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Created by Staff Attorney Brian Bilford of Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

Is someone taking part of your paycheck? You may be able to stop this with a claim of exemption.

If someone sues you for money that you owe and wins, your wages may be “garnished.” This means they can take part of your paycheck every month — up to 25% of your paycheck. For example, if you make $2000 a month, $500 can be taken each month until your debt is paid off.

BUT, if you NEED this money to support you or your family, you may be able to get a CLAIM OF EXEMPTION to stop it from being taken.

How to File the Claim of Exemption

You should have received a form that says “EARNINGS WITHHOLDING ORDER” from your employer. It is form WG-002 (click here for fillable PDF version). The form includes the name and address of a “levying officer.” That person is usually a sheriff.

You need to fill out two forms and mail or bring them to the “levying officer.” The first form is WG-006 and says “CLAIM OF EXEMPTION (Wage Garnishment)” on it (click here for fillable PDF version). The second form is “WG-007” and says “FINANCIAL STATEMENT (Wage Garnishment  – Enforcement of Judgment)” on it (click here for fillable PDF version).

These forms let you to show your income and your expenses, including expenses you pay for your family, like rent, utilities, or food. After you send the forms to the levying officer, you will later be contacted by a court. You will receive a notice with the date and time that you have to come to court.

When you go to court, you will argue to a judge that you need all of the money you earn to pay for basic, necessary expenses. It may take several months before you go to court. When you do go to court, you need to bring receipts or other papers that prove your income and expenses. If the judge agrees that all of your expenses are necessary, your wages will not be taken.