Wage Garnishment Limits in Massachusetts

Wage garnishment occurs when your employer withholds part of your check to pay any withstanding debts that you have not paid off. Having to go through this can be a very difficult thing. You work hard everyday to pay your rent, utilities, gas for your car, etc. On top of all of this, if you have a family to support and you see a chunk of your paycheck being taken out, it can put a lot of stress on your shoulders.

However, in every state there are limits set up to state how much of your paycheck can be garnished. It prevents creditors from taking more than they can. Particularly in the state of Massachusetts, they have pretty strict limits. The most that can be garnished is 15% of your gross wage (before taxes or other deductions are taken out) or your disposable income less 50 times the greater of the federal ($7.25/hour) or the hourly minimum wage ($8.00) per week.

For example, let’s say your gross wage is $1,000 per week. 15% of this would be $150 and your disposable earnings less 50 times the Massachusetts minimum wage of $8.00 is equal to $600. This means that the creditor would be able to garnish up to $150 of your wages per week.

Moreoever, if you have more than one garnishment, the total amount of that can be garnished must be limited to 15%. Keep in mind that if you owe child support, student loans, or taxes, the government or creditor can garnish your wages without getting a court order. However, if you’re behind on credit card payments, these creditors cannot garnish your wages unless they sue you and get a judgment.

Federal and state laws prohibit your employer from firing you for having a single debt garnished from your wages. However, if this count goes up to two or more debts being garnished, the employer now can do as he or she pleases. When it comes to this stage, the employee may be forced to quit their job rather than being subject to wage garnishment. They can also opt to declare bankruptcy to avoid the judgment altogether.

Don’t forget to do some research before making any decisions. Massachusetts laws are different than other states so don’t get confused!

Archana Sabesan

Archana Sabesan

Archana Sabesan is a junior at North Carolina State University. She is currently pursuing a major in Psychology, with a primary focus in Child Psychology, and a minor in Spanish. After graduating, she plans to attend graduate school to obtain her PsyD degree in Clinical Psychology. Her experiences at Stanford University and Duke University as an Undergraduate Research Assistant have helped her to develop an effective research regiment and build on her observation skills. She hopes to open a private practice of her own in the future.

Every summer, Archana works at Kumon, a math and reading workshop, tutoring children between the ages of three and 18 in these subjects. She used to be enrolled in this program herself, so this allows her to connect with the students and give them the one-on-one help that they need. Archana is also currently a member of NC State’s Psychology Club, Rotaract Club, and EKTAA (NC State’s premiere South Asian Student Organization).

Archana was born in India, and moved to North Carolina with her immediate family when she was 7 years old. She speaks mostly Tamil, the native language of South India, and English in her home. In addition, having taken Spanish classes since 6th grade, she can speak and understand it pretty well too. Archana enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching movies, listening to music, and going to the gym. She also loves to travel, and hopes to travel the world one day and learn about all the different cultures!
Archana Sabesan