Generally speaking, creditors cannot garnish your Social Security disability benefits without your permission. However, there is one big exception to this rule.
Federal law protects your Social Security disability checks from debt collectors, but not from the federal government itself. The government can withhold up to 15% of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments to cover unpaid child support, alimony, back taxes or other debts owed to the federal government. Unpaid, federally guaranteed student loans are another situation where the government can tap into your disability checks. The feds do not need your permission to withhold disability funds in these situations.
If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, they are protected from everyone and cannot be garnished even by the federal government.