Can the IRS put a levy on Social Security checks?

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A distinction must be made between two possibilities. The first possibility is that the IRS garnishes your social security check, directly through the Social Security Administration. The second possibility is that the IRS levies the bank account where your social security check was deposited.
Answer (Bank Accounts) Yes, but only up to 15% from an account which ONLY has Social Security funds. If any other deposits are made to the account (cash, checks, etc.), then you would probably have to battle in court about the percentage which is Social Security. 20 CFR 404.970

SSR 79-4

Generally, Social Security benefits are exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or from the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law. The exceptions are that benefits are subject: (1) to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to make levies for the collection of delinquent Federal taxes and under certain circumstances delinquent child support payments; and (2) to garnishment or similar legal process brought by an individual to enforce a child support or alimony obligation.

Section 207 of the Social Security Act provides:
"The right of any person to any future payment under this title shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law."
Answer (Directly Through Social Security) The IRS can take 15% of your social security retirement benefits under the automated Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP); however there is no such restriction on the non-FPLP (manual) levies. An exemption amount for reasonable living expenses may be requested, or be applied, to any levies.
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