TN 45 (10-19)

GN 02201.040 Collection of Title II/Title XVI Overpayments by Administrative Wage Garnishment

A. Policy

1. Authority

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134), section 31001(o) (1), authorized Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG). That section of the law amended Chapter 37, subchapter II, of Title 31, United States Code (USC), by adding section 3720D to permit Federal agencies to use AWG to recover delinquent non-tax debts.

In January 2004, SSA's regulations governing its AWG program became final. Those regulations are in 20 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 422, subpart E, sections 422.401422.445. SSA's final regulations implement 31 U.S.C. 3720D under the guidance provided by the Department of the Treasury at 31 CFR 285.11.

2. Description of AWG

AWG is the process whereby a Federal agency orders an employer to withhold amounts each payday from an employee who owes a debt to the agency, and the employer pays those amounts to the agency. Under AWG a Federal agency collecting delinquent non-tax debt may garnish the wages of a delinquent debtor without first obtaining a court order.

Based on the garnishment order, the debtor's employer withholds up to 15% of the debtor's disposable pay. Disposable pay is that part of the worker's total compensation (including, but not limited to, salary or wages, bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay) from an employer remaining after deduction of health insurance premiums and any other amounts required by law to be withheld. Amounts required to be withheld include deductions such as Social Security contributions and other withholding taxes but do not include amounts withheld under court order.

The employer is required by law to comply with the AWG order. Noncompliance may result in legal action against the employer.

3. Criteria for AWG Selection

SSA uses its automated External Collection Operation (ECO) system to select, control and monitor Title II and Title XVI overpayment cases for AWG, Treasury Offset Program (TOP) and credit bureau reporting. The system determines if a delinquent debtor is eligible for AWG and the other two programs.

In order for a debt to be selected for AWG, all of the following conditions must apply:

  • The debtor is alive, and

  • The debtor is not entitled to Title II or Title XVI benefits or Medicare based on disability, and

  • The debtor is not active in the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (active is denoted as Code I on the Disability Control File), and

  • The debtor's Social Security Number is available, and

  • The debt is $200 or more, and

  • The debt is past-due, and

  • The debt is legally enforceable (See GN 02201.030C.), and

  • The debt was established after age 18, and

  • The Master Earnings File (MEF) shows that the debtor has regular wages, state and local government wages, nonprofit or railroad wages from a domestic employer, and

  • The debtor was not involuntarily separated from employment or, if he was, has been re-employed continuously for at least 12 months, and

  • No installment payment arrangements exist with SSA, or if one has been made, the debtor failed to make a payment for two consecutive months, and

  • No waiver or appeal is pending, and

  • Cross Program Recovery is not available.

4. Reasons for Non-Selection

There are many different reasons for cases not to be selected for AWG. Systems limitations, debtor earnings profile, and policy/legal constraints are but a few of the reasons. The following are the most important reasons for non-selection.

a. Debt Delinquent for More than 10 Years

SSA does not select for AWG debts that are delinquent for more than 10 years.

However, if a debt becomes delinquent for more than 10 years after it was legitimately selected for AWG and the garnishment process has begun, SSA will not stop the garnishment. The policy is to continue accepting the payments from an employer when the 10-year delinquency threshold is met after AWG begins.

b. Self-Employment or Agricultural Wages

SSA does not select self-employed people for AWG. In addition, SSA does not select people with agricultural wages for AWG, as the work history is too irregular to allow AWG to be effective.

c. Work Incentives

The Agency excludes individuals from AWG selection:

  • while they are participating in the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program and have tickets in use, or

  • while they are in a period of extended Medicare eligibility, or

  • while their Title II disability insurance benefits are stopped during the re-entitlement period.

Since one of SSA's main objectives is to increase employment of people with disabilities, SSA excludes people with the preceding work incentives from the AWG program.

d. Installment Agreements

SSA's regulations governing AWG do not allow the selection of a case for AWG while the person pays regular installments. In that case we do not consider the person to be delinquent in repaying the debt.

AWG is a complex process to start and stop. Once the AWG package has been sent to the employer, AWG is considered active, and SSA will not stop collecting by AWG even if the debtor subsequently offers to start or resume paying us by regular installments. We will accept the installment payments received after AWG starts, but we will not inactivate AWG.

e. Cross Program Recovery

SSA's regulations governing AWG do not allow the use of that collection tool to recover a debt when SSA is recovering by cross program recovery. If the debtor is legitimately selected for AWG and subsequently is selected for cross program recovery, AWG will automatically stop.

f. Military and Federal Employees

AWG cannot be used to collect a delinquent non-tax debt owed to the Federal government from the wages Military or Federal employees earn from their Federal employment. Instead, Military and Federal pay is subject to the Federal salary offset procedures explained in 5 U.S.C. 5514 and other applicable laws.

Please see GN 02201.043: Collection of Title II/Title XVI Overpayments by Federal Salary Offset (FSO).

5. SSA's Decision to Use AWG Not an Initial Determination

SSA's regulations at 20 CFR 404.903(v) and 416.1403(a)(20) include AWG in the list of administrative actions that are not initial determinations. Consequently, appeal rights under Title II and Title XVI of the Act do not apply to SSA's decision to use AWG to collect debts.

Individuals may, however, still request reconsideration of the initial overpayment determination. Those requests will be handled according to existing procedure. Since cases selected for AWG are by definition beyond the 60-day period for requesting reconsideration of the initial overpayment determination, the debtor must prove good cause for late filing. For instructions on how to handle reconsideration requests, see GN 02201.041B.7., SI 02220.017A.4. and SI 02220.018B.7.

In addition to the time-limited right to reconsideration, individuals always have the right to request waiver of recovery of the overpayment at any time. Those requests will also be handled according to existing procedure. For instructions on how to handle waiver requests, see GN 02250.001 through GN 02250.425. or SI 02260.001 through SI 02260.045.

6. AWG Due Process Rights

Individuals are notified about SSA's plans to use AWG in the 60-day pre-offset notice which also informs them about TOP and credit bureau reporting.

Individuals subject to AWG have the following specific due process rights under the AWG statutes and regulations.

a. Right to Request Review of the Debt

In the 60-day pre-offset notice, SSA tells the individual that he/she has the right to request review of the debt.

This review is very limited in its scope. There must be evidence in the record or furnished by the debtor (e.g., the debt was paid in full or recovery was waived) to show that the debtor does not owe the debt or does not owe it in the amount claimed by SSA or SSA is precluded from collecting it (e.g., the debt is subject to a bankruptcy petition or discharge). If the debtor requests this review within 60 days of the date of the pre-offset notice, SSA will not proceed with the AWG until the review has been completed. See GN 02201.041B.4. and SI 02220.018B.4. for specific information about how to process a request for review.

IMPORTANT: The AWG request for review is not the same as a request for reconsideration of the fact/amount of the overpayment determination, and must not be treated as such. In fact, SSA's findings on the request for review constitute the final action on the matter. No additional appeal rights exist. Consequently, do not accept an SSA-561 for these requests.

b. Right to Request Lower AWG Amount Due to Financial Hardship

A debtor whose wages are subject to AWG may, at any time, request a review of the amount garnished based on materially changed circumstances such as disability, divorce, or catastrophic illness which result in financial hardship. The request can be made either orally or in writing. The decision as to the amount of withholding is an administrative action and not an initial determination subject to appeal rights. See GN 02201.041B.5. and SI 02220.018B.5. for instructions on how to process requests for reduction in AWG amounts due to financial hardship.

SSA will not reduce the AWG amount if the overpayment resulted from fraud, an intentional false statement or willful concealment of, or failure to furnish, material information.

c. Right to Inspect and Copy SSA Records About the Debt

The debtor has the right to inspect and copy SSA's records related to the debtor's overpayment. See GN 02201.041B.3. for instructions.

7. AWG, TOP and Credit Bureau Reporting

When applicable, SSA uses AWG at the same time as TOP and credit bureau reporting. The receipt of AWG payments does not preclude SSA from using those other debt collection remedies. The system automatically updates the balance of the debt being collected under AWG and TOP, thus preventing excess collections.

8. Involuntary Separation from Employment

The law and regulations governing AWG provide that an Agency may not garnish the wages of a person who it knows has been involuntarily separated from employment until the person has been re-employed continuously for at least 12 months. “Involuntary separation” occurs when a person is fired or laid off; it also occurs when the person's job is abolished or the company goes out of business for any reason.

SSA can become aware of a debtor's involuntary separation in at least two ways. The debtor can inform SSA in response to the 60-day pre-offset notice, or during the course of active garnishment. The employer can also inform SSA in response to the AWG Employer Package described in GN 02201.040B.4. or during active garnishment.

The 60-day pre-offset notice advises the person to tell us in writing or to call any Social Security office if he/she was involuntarily separated from employment. See GN 02201.041D.1. and SI 02220.018D.1. for instructions on how to handle debtor allegations of involuntary separation. See GN 02201.042C for instructions on how to handle employer reports of involuntary separation.

9. Employer Actions Prohibited by Law

The law and regulations prohibit the employer from firing, refusing to employ, or taking any disciplinary action against the debtor due to the issuance of an AWG order. See GN 02201.041D.2. and SI 02220.018D.2. for instructions on how to handle allegations of such action by the employer.

10. Employer Refuses to Conduct AWG

The law and regulations authorize an Agency to sue any employer for any amount that the employer unlawfully refuses to withhold from the disposable pay after the employer receives an AWG order. The employer can also be held liable for attorney fees, cost of the lawsuit and (in the court's discretion) punitive damages.

We will not sue the employer before we terminate collection efforts against the debtor, unless earlier filing is necessary to avoid expiration of any applicable statute of limitations period. See GN 02201.042D.1. for instructions on how to process employer refusal to conduct AWG.

B. Process – Initiating AWG

1. ECO System Selects Debtors

SSA's AWG program is designed to be as fully automated as possible, though some manual actions are necessary and are described in the AWG instructions in GN 02201.042. The selection of debtors subject to AWG is an automated process. By design, there is no capability to initiate AWG manually on a case-by-case basis.

Using the AWG selection criteria listed in GN 02201.040A.3., the ECO system automatically selects debtors who meet the criteria for AWG. Since the selection process is run at regular intervals, it ensures a maximum number of selections for AWG, TOP and credit bureau reporting. If a debtor does not meet the selection criteria at a particular selection run, but meets it later, the system automatically selects the person at that time.

NOTE: When the debtor owes both Title II and Title XVI debts and both are eligible for AWG, the debt with the earliest delinquency start date will be selected for recovery first.

2. SSA Notifies Debtors

SSA uses the same automated process as described in GN 02201.030A.3. to notify debtors about the potential AWG action. Once a month, SSA prints and mails the 60-day pre-offset notices. The notices contain information about all applicable ECO debt collection tools SSA plans to use. In addition to providing the standard language about repaying the debt in a lump sum or by an installment agreement and the right to request waiver, the 60-day notices provide the following information specific to AWG:

  • The law allows SSA to collect the overpayment from the person's pay;

  • SSA may order the employer to withhold and send us as much as 15 percent of the person's disposable pay every payday;

  • The employer must withhold that part of the person's pay and send it to SSA until we collect the debt in full;

  • The disposable pay is the amount left after deduction for health insurance premiums and deductions required by law, such as taxes;

  • SSA will collect the overpayment at a higher rate than 15 percent of disposable pay if the person asks us to do so;

  • The law prohibits the person's employer from firing, laying off or taking other disciplinary actions against the person based on the AWG order;

  • The debtor may request review of the debt;

  • SSA will not order the employer to conduct AWG if the person was fired or laid off and has not had 12 continuous months of work since the adverse action;

  • The person should tell SSA in writing about a change in employment by calling or visiting any Social Security office;

  • The person has the right to ask us to lower the amount we would collect from the pay and that we will lower the amount if the person shows it would cause hardship (see GN 02201.040A.6.b.).

If the notice is returned as undeliverable, SSA does not begin AWG unless and until we get a current address and succeed in delivering the 60-day notice. Unless the notice is returned as undeliverable, assume that it was delivered to the person at the correct address. (See GN 02201.030F.2. for instructions on handling allegations of non-receipt of the 60-day pre-offset notice.)

If the notice is returned as undeliverable after AWG has been started, see GN 02201.042D.3. for instructions on how to handle.

3. ECO System Checks Master Earnings File (MEF)

After the 60-day pre-offset notice is mailed, ECO checks the MEF for employment and earnings information.

a. MEF Indicates Employment (Debtor Meets Earnings Profile)

If the MEF indicates current employment, the system reviews the earnings of the debtor and selects those who meet pre-determined earnings profile. The earnings profile is set by central office and is driven by a variety of factors, such as AWG laws pertaining to minimum wage thresholds.

When the debtor meets the earnings profile, the system flags the record for future AWG. At the expiration of the 60-day due process period, the ECO system screens the debtor's overpayment record to determine if AWG is still appropriate; e.g., no waiver request pending, debt not paid in full, debtor not paying by installments, etc. If so, the system automatically triggers the next step of AWG, which is the mailing of the AWG order and other instructions to the employer, all of which are called the AWG Employer Package. (See GN 02201.040B.4.).

b. MEF Indicates Employment (Debtor Does Not Meet Earnings Profile)

In this case, AWG activity is suspended because the debtor does not meet the earnings profile and AWG would not be appropriate or productive. The ECO system will check the MEF periodically for employment and earnings, and resume AWG activity when the debtor meets the earnings profile.

c. MEF Does Not Indicate Employment

The ECO system will check the MEF periodically for employment and earnings, and resume AWG activity when the debtor meets the earnings profile.

4. SSA Sends AWG Employer Package

When all conditions for AWG are met, SSA sends the AWG Employer Package to the selected employer. The package includes the following documents:

  • Letter to Employer & Important Notice to Employer (SF- 329A)

  • Wage Garnishment Order (SF- 329B)

  • Wage Garnishment Worksheet (SF- 329C)

  • Employer Certification (SF- 329D)

  • Scannable Payment Coupons

To view the AWG Employer Package, except for the scannable coupons, see the following Internet website:

a. Letter to Employer & Important Notice to Employer (SF- 329A)

This document serves four purposes. The mailing of this package activates the debtor in AWG. It announces to the employer the Agency's intent to garnish the wages of the employee. It also provides a brief explanation of important aspects of the law and regulations governing AWG; e.g., Federal law supersedes State law in the matter of AWG, defines disposable pay, and informs the employer about the consequences of failing to comply with the order and of taking unlawful adverse action against the employee based on AWG.

Lastly, SF-329A conveys the other three documents that constitute the AWG Employer Package.

NOTE: SSA also sends a copy of the SF-329A to the overpaid person at the same time we send it to the employer. This serves to keep the debtor informed about the status of SSA's use of AWG. We do not send the debtor copies of the other forms in the employer package.

b. Wage Garnishment Order (SF- 329B)

This form orders the employer to deduct money from the employee's disposable pay and send it to SSA. It also orders the employer to begin deductions immediately, unless the first pay day is within 10 days after the employer receives the order. In that case, the employer may begin deductions on the second pay day after receipt of the order. Finally, SF-329B orders the employer to continue deductions until notified by the Agency to suspend or discontinue the withholding.

SSA's automated system pre-fills the order with information required by the employer to conduct garnishment. The following information is displayed on the AWG Order:

  • Date of the order and date mailed to employer;

  • Claim account number, or housed under number;

  • Employee name and Social Security Number;

  • Employer name and mailing address;

  • SSA mailing address and contact information, including Social Security's internet e-mail address:;

  • Debt amount due;

  • Mailing address for check payments;

  • Wage garnishment amount.

The wage garnishment amount can vary depending upon the overpaid person's circumstances. The AWG law and regulations allow for the possibility of four different methods to determine the AWG amounts.

The wage garnishment amount is the smallest of the following first three amounts:

  1. 1. 

    Fifteen percent of the employee's disposable pay; or

  2. 2. 

    The amount by which the employee's disposable pay exceeds an amount equivalent to 30 times the minimum wage; or

  3. 3. 

    The amount determined by subtracting amounts withheld under other garnishment orders with priority, such as orders pertaining to family support, from twenty-five percent of the employee's disposable pay.


  4. 4. 

    The debtor and the Agency may negotiate a garnishment amount. See GN 02201.041B.5., GN 02201.041B.6., SI 02220.018B.5. and SI 02220.018B.6. for instructions on how to input an AWG amount negotiated between the debtor and the Agency.

IMPORTANT: It is the employer's responsibility to determine the correct wage garnishment amount, except when SSA negotiates an amount with the debtor. In the absence of a negotiated amount, SSA accepts without question or challenge the AWG amount sent to SSA by the employer. However, if the debtor challenges the employer's calculation of the garnishment amount and establishes the correct amount, SSA will revise the payment schedule. See GN 02201.040A.6.

c. Wage Garnishment Worksheet (SF- 329C)

This worksheet is designed to help the employer calculate the appropriate wage garnishment amount. The employer is not obligated to return a copy of the completed form SF-329C to SSA. As explained in the next section, however, the employer may return the worksheet if he/she so desires.

The employer should not complete the form when a negotiated amount was arranged between SSA and the debtor. (See GN 02201.042B.2. for instructions on handling employer questions about the withholding amount).

d. Employer Certification (SF- 329D)

The Employer Certification is the employer's response to SSA's garnishment order. The certification contains fill-in blocks for the employer to complete. It elicits information such as whether or not the employee is currently working, the employment termination date (if applicable) the wage garnishment amount, employee's last known address and telephone number, information about any other AWG orders with priority. (See GN 02201.042C.1. for instructions on handling employer responses on the certification form.)

The employer must complete and return the certification to SSA within 20 days of receipt. The system will control the case for a response from the employer. (See GN 02201.040 B.5.c.). Also, no follow-up will be needed for incomplete information on the form. The PC with jurisdiction over the claim account number/housed under number receives the form and inputs the information to the Debt Management System AWG Employer Response screen (TRER). (See MSOM DMS 014.010 for instructions on the use of the TRER screen).

5. ECO System Monitors Employer Response

After the AWG Employer Package is sent, the ECO system automatically monitors the employer response to the AWG Employer Package. Depending upon the response (or lack thereof), the system determines the next course of action. The following sections contain brief summaries of the possible employer responses and how the ECO system controls them. More detailed information about how to handle the employer responses can be found in GN 02201.042C.

a. Employer Returns Certification (SF-329D)

The Employer Certification contains two possible responses: (1) debtor currently employed and has adequate earnings to garnish; and (2) debtor no longer employed. When the responses are input to the appropriate DMS screens by the PC, the ECO system controls the case for subsequent actions.

  • Debtor Currently Employed

The system sets a control for receipt of the garnishment payment. If the payment is not received as expected, the system sends a first follow-up notice to the employer. This notice will be sent about 35 days from the mailing of the garnishment package or from the date of the last payment.

If the employer does not send the payment in response to the first follow-up notice, the system sends a second follow-up notice about 15 days later. If the employer does not respond to the second follow-up notice, the system generates an alert 15 days later to the PC Debt Management Section to contact the employer. (See GN 02201.042D.2. for instructions on contacting the employer.)

  • Debtor No Longer Employed

The ECO system first checks to determine if another eligible employer is available. If so, the system sends an AWG Employer Package to that employer.

If another eligible employer is not available, then the system sets an automatic control to check for earnings. If the ECO system later finds an eligible employer and the debtor meets the criteria for AWG, the ECO system resumes activity by sending another AWG Employer Package to the appropriate employer.

b. AWG Employer Package Returned as Undeliverable

Undeliverable AWG Employer Packages are returned to central office, where they are scanned and recorded to the ECO system. This creates a transaction for ECO to read the Employer Identification File for a different address for that employer. If ECO finds another address, the system generates an action to re-mail the AWG Employer Package.

If ECO does not find a new address for that employer, it reads the MEF to determine if another qualifying employer is available for AWG. If so, the system sends an AWG Employer Package. If no new employer is found, the system creates an alert to contact the employer. (See GN 02201.042D.3. and SM 00610.080 for more information about processing the alert).

c. No Response from the Employer

The ECO system checks for the indication of an employer response about 35 days after the original AWG Employer Package was sent. The employer response could be the Employer Certification (Form SF-329D), a phone call from the employer and/or receipt of an AWG payment. If SSA does not receive a response, the system checks for a new address for the employer and re-sends the package if a new address is available.

If there is no new address, the system sends two follow-up notices to the employer requesting a response. The first follow-up notice is sent 35-days after the initial employer package was sent. It will include the package as well as the notice. The second follow-up notice is sent about 15 days after the first follow-up. If the employer does not respond to the follow-ups, the system generates an alert to the PC to contact the employer. (See GN 02201.042D.2. for instructions on contacting the employer.)

C. AWG Payments

1. AWG Payments Sent to MATPSC

SSA's intent is to ensure that the employer returns AWG payments to the centralized remittance process in MATPSC. To that end, SSA provides scannable payment coupons and return envelopes to the employer for use in paying the garnishment. The scan line contains information that identifies the remittance as an AWG payment. The system then posts it as such to the debtor's overpayment record.

The ROAR system shows a code of “A” in the remittance source code on the remittance transaction to denote the payment as a garnishment. The SSR shows a code of HW in the OPRR segment. (See MS 01103.001 for more information about how AWG payments are coded and identified in the remittance process).

2. AWG Payments Received in the Field Offices

SSA's policy is to accept AWG payments made by employers in field offices. Field offices should be sure to properly identify the garnishment payments with the reason code of “E”. See GN 02403.006 for detailed instructions about handling any remittance received in the field office.

3. AWG Stops When Overpayment Balance is Less Than $75

To prevent excess AWG payments, SSA stops AWG when the overpayment balance is less than $75. The system automatically sends the employer a notice to stop AWG, and monitors the receipt of continuing payments when the $75 threshold is reached.

If AWG payments continue to be made after the second follow-up notice to stop AWG is sent to the employer, the system creates an alert to the PC to contact the employer and request cessation of AWG. (See SM 00610.080B.3. for instructions on contacting the employer.)


The policy is to keep any AWG payments the employer continues to make after the $75 threshold is reached (and before the debt balance equals zero).

4. AWG Payments by Credit Card

SSA accepts AWG payments by credit card, subject to the procedures in GN 02210.150, GN 02210.152, GN 02210.153, GN 02210.205, and GN 02403.006.

5. AWG Payments by Debit Card

Electronic payments such as debit cards are not acceptable at this time (unless the employer wants to use the debit card as a credit card).

Be aware that the Wage Garnishment Order (SF-329B) contains the following language, “Employers are encouraged to make payments electronically, if possible. . .” In addition, the SF-329B contains fill-in blocks for ABA Routing Number, Account Number, Agency Location Code, Account Title, and Other Information. Since the SF-329B is a standard government form and SSA is required to use it, those fill-in blocks must remain on the form. They will, however, be pre-filled by the term, “Not Applicable”, so as to inform the employer SSA cannot accept electronic payments. See GN 02201.042B.3. for instructions on handling employer requests to make payments electronically.

D. Process – Controlling AWG Update Actions

When AWG is active and employers are making payments, a variety of debt- and debtor-related events requiring AWG update can occur. For example, the debtor can request waiver, thus requiring AWG to stop. To the maximum extent possible, the ECO system automatically controls and monitors the need for AWG updates.

The ECO system reacts to overpayment-related codes on the MBR/ROAR, SSR and within ECO to determine the appropriate update action. The system generates notices that either tell the employer what action to take or follow-up with the employer about a previous communication. The system generates notices intended to accomplish four purposes: (1) Stop AWG; (2) Resume AWG; (3) Change AWG amount; and (4) Follow-up with the employer.

In addition, the ECO system automatically sends a copy of the Stop AWG, Resume AWG and the Change AWG amount notice which was sent to the employer.

See GN 02201.042D.3. for instructions on situations where the employer does not stop, change, or resume garnishment payments.

1. Stop AWG

The Stop AWG notice is generic in that it just tells the employer to stop the garnishment. Due to disclosure policy, SSA does not inform the employer why the cessation is necessary. The ECO system generates a Stop AWG notice when the debtor:

  • Requests waiver;

  • Requests reconsideration of the overpayment determination;

  • Requests review of the debt;

  • Alleges hardship (and development of income/expenses is necessary);

  • Becomes subject to mandatory cross program recovery;

  • Files for bankruptcy or the debt is discharged in bankruptcy;

  • Pays debt in full;

  • Pays compromise amount;

  • Goes back into current pay;

  • Incurs a new debt that is in due process status;

  • Reduces the debt balance to less than $75;

  • Participates in a Ticket to Work Program;

  • Becomes subject to a higher priority garnishment order.

If AWG payments continue after the Stop AWG notice is sent, SSA sends another Stop AWG notice to the employer. If payments continue after the second Stop AWG notice, the ECO system creates an alert for the PC to contact the employer.

2. Resume AWG

Due to disclosure policy, the Resume AWG notice is also generic. It tells the employer to resume garnishing the wages of an employee for whom SSA previously sent a Stop AWG notice. The ECO system automatically recognizes when all conditions are clear for the resumption of garnishment. The system then generates a Resume AWG notice.

The ECO system monitors the case for subsequent garnishment payments after the Resume AWG notice is sent. If none are received, the system sends follow-up notices to the employer. If non-payment continues after the follow-up notices, the system generates an alert for the PC to contact the employer. (See GN 02201.042D.3. for instructions on contacting the employer.)


SSA will send a new AWG Employer Package when sending the Resume AWG notice to the employer.

3. Change AWG Amount

SSA changes the AWG amount when the debtor demonstrates hardship and when the debtor asks for a higher AWG amount. In both cases, the ECO system automatically recognizes the need for the Change AWG Amount notice based on inputs to DMS screens.

The ECO system will send a follow up notice to the employer when the amount is changed after garnishment has started and garnishment payments are received for more than the agreed upon amount. If a second payment is received for more than the amount, an alert will be generated to the PC.

See SM 00610.080B.2. and SM 01311.840B.2. for instructions on processing AWG alerts when the garnishment amount is greater than the agreed upon garnishment amount.

4. Follow-Up Notice to Employer

The ECO system automatically generates follow-up notices to the employer when the employer fails to resume AWG or change the AWG amount or stops sending garnishment payments with no explanation.

If the employer does not respond to the AWG Employer Package, the system generates a notice telling the employer we have not received a response. The follow-up notice will contain another copy of the employer package.

E. References

This section contains references for additional information on AWG.

1. SSA Regulations

20 CFR 422.401422.445 – See PolicyNet and select “Regulations”

2. POMS and MSOM

GN 02201.041 – Debtor Reactions to Collection of Title II Overpayments by Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG)

GN 02201.042 – Employer Issues Regarding Collection of Title II/XVI Overpayments by Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG)

SI 02220.018 – Debtor Reactions to Collection of Title XVI Overpayments by Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG)

SM 00610.001 – Overview of the Recovery of Overpayments, Accounting and Reporting (ROAR) System

MS 01114.001 – External Collection Operation

3. SSA Questions & Answers on AWG

SSA Questions & Answers on AWG are located on the Internet at:

4. Department of the Treasury's Internet Website

The Department of the Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service Internet website is:

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
GN 02201.040 - Collection of Title II/Title XVI Overpayments by Administrative Wage Garnishment - 05/25/2012
Batch run: 10/26/2023