31 CFR § 212.6 - Rules and procedures to protect benefits.

§ 212.6 Rules and procedures to protect benefits.

The following provisions apply if an account review shows that a benefit agency deposited a benefit payment into an account during the lookback period.

(a) Protected amount. The financial institution shall immediately calculate and establish the protected amount for an account. The financial institution shall ensure that the account holder has full and customary access to the protected amount, which the financial institution shall not freeze in response to the garnishment order. An account holder shall have no requirement to assert any right of garnishment exemption prior to accessing the protected amount in the account.

(b) Separate protected amounts. The financial institution shall calculate and establish the protected amount separately for each account in the name of an account holder, consistent with the requirements in § 212.5(f) to conduct distinct account reviews.

(c) No challenge of protection. A protected amount calculated and established by a financial institution pursuant to this section shall be conclusively considered to be exempt from garnishment under law.

(d) Funds in excess of the protected amount. For any funds in an account in excess of the protected amount, the financial institution shall follow its otherwise customary procedures for handling garnishment orders, including the freezing of funds, but consistent with paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section.

(e) Notice. The financial institution shall issue a notice to the account holder named in the garnishment order, in accordance with § 212.7.

(f) One-time account review process. The financial institution shall perform the account review only one time upon the first service of a given garnishment order. The financial institution shall not repeat the account review or take any other action related to the order if the same order is subsequently served again upon the financial institution. If the financial institution is subsequently served a new or different garnishment order against the same account holder, the financial institution shall perform a separate and new account review.

(g) No continuing or periodic garnishment responsibilities. The financial institution shall not continually garnish amounts deposited or credited to the account following the date of account review, and shall take no action to freeze any funds subsequently deposited or credited, unless the institution is served with a new or different garnishment order, consistent with the requirements of this part.

(h) Impermissible garnishment fee. The financial institution may not charge or collect a garnishment fee against a protected amount. The financial institution may charge or collect a garnishment fee up to five business days after the account review if funds other than a benefit payment are deposited to the account within this period, provided that the fee may not exceed the amount of the non-benefit deposited funds.

[76 FR 9955, Feb. 23, 2011, as amended at 78 FR 32109, May 29, 2013]