Wage garnishment or wage attachment occurs when an employer withholds money from your paycheck as compensation for an unpaid debt. You rely on that money to pay off monthly bills and feed your family, so it can be very stressful to see that bit of money being taken out every paycheck. Fortunately, there are limits that are set up stating how much money can be withheld so the creditor is unable to over-extend their reach into your wallet.
In the small state of Rhode Island, the most that can be garnished from your wage is either 25% of your disposable earnings, or the amount by which your weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage (currently at $7.25/hour). Whichever comes out to be a lesser amount is the amount that will get garnished. Remember that disposable earnings means the money that is left after your employer has made deductions required by law.
For example, say you take home $600 per week after taxes are deducted. 25% of your disposable earnings would be $150, and the amount by which your wages exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage is $382.50 ($600-$217.50). Thus, the amount that would be sent to your creditor to repay your debt would be $150 since it is the lesser of the two.
Keep in mind that your wage could be garnished without a judgment if it is unpaid income taxes, child support, or student loans. Also, if you have more than one garnishment, the total amount that can be garnished is still 25%. Thus, if your wage is already being garnished by 15% by one creditor, only 10% can be taken out to give to a second creditor. According to federal law, your employer cannot fire you if you have one garnishment against you. However, if you have more than one tied to your name, then the federal law cannot do much after this point in protecting your employment status.
Also, particularly in Rhode Island, the garnishment law allows you to protect your wages or salary for a period of one year after you have been receiving some type of financial assistance; whether it be public assistance or welfare. Other wages that cannot be touched are those from charitable organizations to persons in need, wages of a seaman or sailor, and some types of military wages.
It is important to be aware of these laws and do your research so you know exactly why and how much of your wage will be garnished.
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!
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