60 FR 13030, Mar. 10, 1995, unless otherwise noted.
Section 5520a of title 5 of the United States Code provides that with certain exceptions set forth in this part, pay from an agency to an employee is subject to legal process in the same manner and to the same extent as if the agency were a private person. The purpose of this part is to implement the objectives of section 5520a as they pertain to each executive agency of the United States Government, except with regard to employees of the United States Postal Service, the Postal Rate Commission, and the General Accounting Office.
In this part - (1) Agency means each agency of the executive branch of the Federal Government, excluding the United States Postal Service, the Postal Rate Commission, and the General Accounting Office; agency does not include the government of the District of Columbia or the territories and possessions of the United States. (Section 5520a(j)(1) of title 5 of the United States Code provides that separate implementing regulations shall be promulgated by the legislative branch and the judicial branch; section 5520a(k) provides that separate implementing regulations shall be promulgated with regard to members of the uniformed services; and Executive Order 12897 provides that separate implementing regulations shall be promulgated with regard to employees of the United States Postal Service. The regulations promulgated for employees of the United States Postal Service also apply to employees of the Postal Rate Commission.)
(2) Employee or employee-obligor means an individual who is employed by an agency as defined in this section, including a reemployed annuitant, an individual engaged in phased employment as defined in part 831, subpart Q, and part 848 of this chapter, and a retired member of the uniformed services who is employed by an agency. Employee does not include a retired employee, a member of the uniformed services, a retired member of the uniformed services, or an individual whose service is based on a contract, including an individual who provides personal services based on a contract with an agency.
(3) Legal process means any writ, order, summons, or other similar process in the nature of garnishment, which may include an attachment, writ of execution, court ordered wage assignment, or tax levy from a State or local government, which -
(i) Is issued by:
(A) A court of competent jurisdiction, including Indian tribal courts, within any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the District of Columbia. As stated in § 582.101, pay is subject to legal process in the same manner and to the same extent as if the agency were a private person. There is, therefore, no requirement in this part that, for example, legal process be signed by a Judge; or.
(B) An authorized official pursuant to an order of a court of competent jurisdiction or pursuant to State or local law; or
(C) A State agency authorized to issue income withholding notices pursuant to State or local law; and
(ii) Orders an agency to withhold an amount from the pay of an employee-obligor and to make a payment of such withholding to a person, for a specifically described satisfaction of a legal debt of the employee-obligor, or recovery of attorney fees, interest, or court costs;
(4) Person may include an individual, partnership, corporation, association, joint venture, private organization or other legal entity, and includes the plural of that term; person may include any of the entities that may issue legal process as set forth in § 582.102(3)(i) (A), (B), and (C), and a State or local government as well as a foreign entity or a foreign governmental unit, but does not include the United States or an agency of the United States.
(5) In conformance with 5 U.S.C. 5520a, pay means basic pay; premium pay paid under chapter 55, subchapter V, of title 5 of the United States Code; any payment received under chapter 55, subchapters VI, VII, and VIII, of title 5 of the United States Code; severance pay and back pay under chapter 55, subchapter IX, of title 5 of the United States Code; sick pay, and any other paid leave; incentive pay; locality pay (including special pay adjustments for law enforcement officers and locality-based comparability payments); back pay awards; and any other compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether such compensation is denominated as pay, wages, salary, lump-sum leave payments, commission, bonus, award, or otherwise; but does not include amounts received under any Federal program for compensation for work injuries; awards for making suggestions, reimbursement for expenses incurred by an individual in connection with employment, or allowances in lieu of thereof as determined by the employing agency.
In determining the amount of pay subject to garnishment under this part, there shall be excluded amounts which:
(a) Are owed by the employee-obligor to the United States;
(b) Are required by law to be deducted from the employee-obligor's pay, including, but not limited to amounts deducted in compliance with the Federal Insurance and Contributions Act (FICA), including amounts deducted for Medicare and for Old Age, Survivor, and Disability Insurance (OASDI);
(c) Are properly withheld for Federal, State, or local income tax purposes, if the withholding of the amounts is authorized or required by law and if amounts withheld are not greater than would be the case if the employee-obligor claimed all dependents to which the employee-obligor were entitled. The withholding of additional amounts pursuant to section 3402(i) of title 26 of the United States Code may be permitted only when the employee-obligor presents evidence of a tax obligation which supports the additional withholding;
(d) Are deducted as health insurance premiums;
(e) Are deducted as normal retirement contributions, not including amounts deducted for supplementary coverage. For purposes of this section, all amounts contributed under sections 8351 and 8432(a) of title 5 of the United States Code to the Thrift Savings Fund are deemed to be normal retirement contributions. Except as provided in this paragraph, amounts voluntarily contributed toward additional retirement benefits are considered to be supplementary;
(f) Are deducted as normal life insurance premiums from salary or other remuneration for employment, not including amounts deducted for supplementary coverage. Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance premiums for “Basic Life” coverage are considered to be normal life insurance premiums; all optional Federal Employees' Group Life Insurance premiums and any life insurance premiums paid for by allotment are considered to be supplementary.
(g) Amounts withheld in compliance with legal process based on child support and/or alimony indebtedness are not exclusions.
(a) Except as provided in appendix A to this part, appendix A to 5 CFR part 581 lists agents designated to accept service of process under part 581 and this part.
(b) United States Attorneys are not considered appropriate agents to accept service of process.
(a) A person using this part shall serve interrogatories and legal process on the agent to receive process as explained in § 582.201. Where the legal process is directed to an agency, and the purpose of the legal process is to compel an agency to garnish an employee's pay, the legal process need not expressly name the agency as a garnishee.
(b) Service of legal process may be accomplished by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, or by personal service only upon the agent to receive process as explained in § 582.201, or if no agent has been designated, then upon the head of the employee-obligor's employing agency. The designated agent shall note the date and time of receipt on the legal process.
(c) Parties bringing garnishment actions shall comply with the service of process provisions in this section. Service will not be effective where parties fail to comply with the service of process provisions of this section, notwithstanding whether the person bringing the garnishment action has complied with the service of process requirements of the jurisdiction issuing the legal process.
(a) Sufficient identifying information must accompany the legal process in order to enable processing by the agency. Parties seeking garnishment actions, therefore, should provide as many of the following identifying pieces of information concerning the employee-obligor as possible:
(1) Full name;
(2) Date of birth;
(3) Employment number or social security number;
(4) Component of the agency for which the employee-obligor works;
(5) Official duty station or worksite; and
(6) Home address or current mailing address.
(b) If the information submitted is not sufficient to identify the employee-obligor, the legal process shall be returned directly to the court, or other authority, with an explanation of the deficiency. However, prior to returning the legal process, if there is sufficient time prior to the time limits imposed in § 582.303, an attempt should be made to inform the person who caused the legal process to be served, or the person's representative, that it will not be honored unless adequate identifying information is supplied.
The party designated to receive the garnished funds may forward a written request to the garnishing agency to have the funds remitted by electronic funds transfer, rather than by paper check. The request shall include the designated party's name, address, and deposit account number, and the name, address, and 9-digit routing transit number of the designated party's financial institution. Written requests accompanying service of process will be honored beginning with the first remission of garnished funds. Written requests received by the agency subsequent to service of process will be honored in as timely a manner as the agency deems feasible.
Upon proper service of legal process as specified in §§ 582.202 and 582.203, the agency shall suspend, i.e., withhold, payment of such moneys for the amount necessary to permit compliance with the legal process in accordance with this part.
(a) As soon as possible, but not later than 15 calendar days after the date of valid service of legal process, the agent designated to accept legal process shall send to the employee-obligor, at his or her duty station or last known home address, written notice that such process has been served, including a copy of the legal process;
(b) The agency may provide the employee-obligor with the following additional information:
(1) Copies of any other documents submitted in support of or in addition to the legal process;
(2) Notice that the United States does not represent the interests of the employee-obligor in the pending legal proceedings; and
(3) Advice that the employee-obligor may wish to consult legal counsel regarding defenses to the legal process that he or she may wish to assert.
(a) Whenever the designated agent is validly served with legal process, the agent shall respond within 30 calendar days after receipt, or within such longer period as may be prescribed by applicable State or local law. The agent shall also respond within this time period to interrogatories which accompany legal process. Notwithstanding State law, an agent need only respond once to legal process.
(b) If State or local law authorizes the issuance of interrogatories prior to or after the issuance of legal process, the agent shall respond to the interrogatories within 30 calendar days after being validly served, or within such longer period as may be prescribed by applicable State or local law.
(a) No agency employee whose duties include responding to interrogatories pursuant to § 582.303(b), shall be subject to any disciplinary action or civil or criminal liability or penalty for any disclosure of information made in connection with the carrying out of any duties pertaining directly or indirectly to answering such interrogatories.
(b) However, an agency would not be precluded from taking disciplinary action against an employee who consistently or purposely failed to provide correct information requested by interrogatories.
(a) The agency shall comply with legal process, except where the process cannot be complied with because:
(1) It is not regular on its face.
(2) The legal process would require the withholding of funds not deemed pay as described in § 582.102(a)(5).
(3) It does not comply with section 5520a of title 5 of the United States Code or with the mandatory provisions of this part; or
(4) An order of a court of competent jurisdiction enjoining or suspending the operation of the legal process has been served on the agency.
(b) While an agency will not comply with legal process which, on its face, indicates that it has expired or is otherwise no longer valid, legal process will be deemed valid notwithstanding the fact that the underlying debt and/or the underlying judgment arose prior to the effective date of section 5520a of title 5 of the United States Code.
(1) The filing of an appeal by an employee-obligor will not generally delay the processing of a garnishment action. If the employee-obligor establishes to the satisfaction of the employee-obligor's agency that the law of the jurisdiction which issued the legal process provides that the processing of the garnishment action shall be suspended during an appeal, and if the employee-obligor establishes that he or she has filed an appeal, the employing agency shall comply with the applicable law of the jurisdiction and delay or suspend the processing of the garnishment action.
(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the employing agency shall not be required to establish an escrow account to comply with the legal process even if the applicable law of the jurisdiction requires private employers to do so.
(d) Under the circumstances set forth in § 582.305 (a) or (b), or where the agency is directed by the Justice Department not to comply with the legal process, the agency shall respond directly to the court, or other authority, setting forth its reasons for non-compliance with the legal process. In addition, the agency shall inform the person who caused the legal process to be served, or the person's representative, that the legal process will not be honored. Thereafter, if litigation is initiated or appears imminent, the agency shall immediately refer the matter to the United States Attorney for the district from which the legal process issued. To ensure uniformity in the executive branch, agencies which have statutory authority to represent themselves in court shall coordinate their representation with the United States Attorney.
(e) In the event that an agency is served with more than one legal process or garnishment order with respect to the same payments due or payable to the same employee, the agency shall satisfy such processes in priority based on the time of service: Provided, That in no event will the total amount garnished for any pay or disbursement cycle exceed the applicable limitation set forth in § 582.402. Provided further, That processes which are not limited in time shall preserve their priority based on time of service until fully satisfied. Generally, a modified order will retain its original priority while a time limited order will lose its priority after it has expired.
(f) Legal process to which an agency is subject under sections 459, 461, and 462 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 659, 661, and 662) for the enforcement of an employee's legal obligation to provide child support or to make alimony payments, including child support or alimony arrearages, shall have priority over any legal process to which an agency is subject under this part. In addition to having priority, compliance with legal process to which an agency is subject under sections 459, 461, and 462 of the Social Security Act may exhaust the moneys available for compliance with legal process under this part. See § 582.402(a).
(1) Neither the United States, and executive agency, nor any disbursing officer shall be liable for any payment made from moneys due from, or payable by, the United States to any individual pursuant to legal process regular on its face, if such payment is made in accordance with this part.
(2) Neither the United States, an executive agency, nor any disbursing officer shall be liable under this part to pay money damages for failure to comply with the legal process.
(h) Agencies affected by legal process served under this part shall not be required to vary their normal pay or disbursement cycles to comply with the legal process. However, legal process, valid at the time of service, which is received too late to be honored during the disbursement cycle in which it is received, shall be honored, to the extent that the legal process may be satisfied, during the next disbursement cycle within the limits set forth in § 582.402. The fact that the legal process may have expired during this period would not relieve the agency of its obligation to honor legal process which was valid at the time of service. If, in the next disbursement cycle, no further payment will be due from the agency to the employee-obligor, the agency shall follow the procedures set forth in § 582.306.
(i) Agencies need not establish escrow accounts in order to comply with legal process. Therefore, even if the amount garnished by an agency in one disbursement cycle is not sufficient to satisfy the entire indebtedness, the agency need not retain those funds until the amount retained would satisfy the entire indebtedness. On the contrary, agencies will, in most instances, remit the garnished amount after each disbursement cycle. Agencies need not pro-rate payments for less than a full disbursement cycle.
(j) If an agency receives legal process which is regular on its face, the agency shall not be required to ascertain whether the authority which issued the legal process had obtained personal jurisdiction over the employee-obligor.
(k) At the discretion of the executive agency, the agency's administrative costs in executing a garnishment may be added to the garnishment amount and the agency may retain costs recovered as offsetting collections. To facilitate recovery of these administrative costs, an administrative fee may be assessed for each legal process that is received and processed by an agency, provided that the fee constitutes the agency's administrative costs in executing the garnishment action.
(l) Where an employee-obligor has filed a bankruptcy petition under section 301 or 302 of title 11 of the United States Code, or is the debtor named in an involuntary petition filed under section 303 of title 11, the agency must cease garnishment proceedings affected by the automatic stay provision, section 362(a) of title 11. Upon filing a petition in bankruptcy or upon learning that he or she is the debtor named in an involuntary petition, the employee-obligor should immediately notify the agency. To enable the agency to determine if the automatic stay applies, the employee-obligor should provide the agency with a copy of the filing or a letter from counsel stating that the petition was filed and indicating the court and the case number, the chapter under which the petition was filed, whether State or federal exemptions were elected, and the nature of the claim underlying the garnishment order.
(m) Within 30 days following the collection of the amount required in the garnishment order, the creditor may submit a final statement of interest that accrued during the garnishment process, and the employing agency shall process the statement for payment, provided the garnishment order authorizes the collection of such interest. This final statement of interest should be accompanied by a statement of account showing how the interest was computed.
(a) When legal process is served on an agency and the individual identified in the legal process as the employee-obligor is found not to be entitled to pay from the agency, the agency shall follow the procedures set forth in the legal process for that contingency or, if no procedures are set forth therein, the agency shall return the legal process to the court, or other authority from which it was issued, and advise the court, or other authority, that the identified employee-obligor is not entitled to any pay from the agency.
(b) Where it appears that the employee-obligor is only temporarily not entitled to pay from the agency, the court, or other authority, shall be fully advised as to why, and for how long, the employee-obligor's pay will not be garnished, if that information is known by the agency and if disclosure of that information would not be prohibited.
(c) In instances where an employee-obligor separates from employment with an agency that had been honoring a continuing legal process, the agency shall inform the person who caused the legal process to be served, or the person's representative, and the issuing court, or other authority, that the garnishment action is being discontinued. In cases where the employee-obligor has been employed by either another agency or by a private employer, and where this information is known by the agency, the agency shall provide the person with the designated agent for the new employing agency or with the name and address of the private employer.
In accordance with the Consumer Credit Protection Act, the aggregate disposable earnings under this part are the employee-obligor's pay less those amounts excluded in accordance with § 582.103.
Pursuant to section 1673(a)(1) of title 15 of the United States Code (the Consumer Credit Protection Act, as amended) and the Department of Labor regulations to title 29, Code of Federal Regulations, part 870, the following limitations are applicable:
(a) Unless a lower maximum limitation is provided by applicable State or local law, the maximum part of an employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings subject to garnishment to enforce any legal debt other than an order for child support or alimony, including any amounts withheld to offset administrative costs as provided for in § 582.305(k), shall not exceed 25 percent of the employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings for any workweek. As appropriate, State or local law should be construed as providing a lower maximum limitation where legal process may only be processed on a one at a time basis. Where an agency is garnishing 25 percent or more of an employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings for any workweek in compliance with legal process to which an agency is subject under sections 459, 461, and 462 of the Social Security Act, no additional amount may be garnished in compliance with legal process under this part. Furthermore, the following dollar limitations, which are contained in title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 870, must be applied in determining the garnishable amount of the employee's aggregate disposable earnings:
(1) If the employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings for the workweek are in excess of 40 times the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum hourly wage, 25 percent of the employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings may be garnished. For example, effective September 1, 1997, when the FLSA minimum wage rate is $5.15 per hour, this rate multiplied by 40 equals $206.00 and thus, if an employee-obligor's disposable earnings are in excess of $206.00 for a workweek, 25 percent of the employee-obligor's disposable earnings are subject to garnishment.
(2) If the employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings for a workweek are less than 40 times the FLSA minimum hourly wage, garnishment may not exceed the amount by which the employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings exceed 30 times the current minimum wage rate. For example, at an FLSA minimum wage rate of $5.15 per hour, the amount of aggregate disposable earnings which may not be garnished is $154.50 [$5.15 × 30]. Only the amount above $154.50 is garnishable.
(3) If the employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings in a workweek are equal to or less than 30 times the FLSA minimum hourly wage, the employee-obligator's earnings may not be garnished in any amount.
(b) There is no limit on the percentage of an employee-obligor's aggregate disposable earnings that may be garnished for a Federal, State or local tax obligation or in compliance with an order of any court of the United States having jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases under Chapter 13 of title 11 of the United States Code. Orders from courts having jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases under Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 of the United States Code are subject to the maximum garnishment restrictions in § 582.402(a).
Appropriate officials of all agencies shall, to the extent necessary, issue implementing rules, regulations, or directives that are consistent with this part or as are otherwise in accordance with statutory law.
[63 FR 14788, Mar. 26, 1998]
The agents designated to accept legal process are listed in appendix A to part 581 of this chapter. This appendix A to part 582 provides listings only for those executive agencies where the designations differ from those found in appendix A to part 581 of this chapter.
Department of Defense. Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Cleveland Center, Office of General Counsel, Attention: Code L, P.O. Box 998002, Cleveland, OH 44199-8002, (216) 522-5301.
Agents for receipt of all legal process for all Department of Defense civilian employees except where another agent has been designated as set forth below.
For requests that apply to employees of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or to civilian employees of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) who are employed outside the United States: See appendix A to part 581 of this chapter.
For requests that apply to civilian employees of the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and non-appropriated fund civilian employees of the Air Force, serve the following offices:
Army Nonappropriated Fund Employees in Europe. Commander, 266th Theater Finance Command, NAF Payroll, Unit #29001-07, APO AE 09007-0137, 011-49-6221-57-7752, DSN 379-7752.
National Security Agency. General Counsel, National Security Agency/Central Security Service, 9800 Savage Rd., Ft. George G. Meade, MD 20755-6000, (301) 688-6705.
Defense Intelligence Agency. Office of General Counsel, Defense Intelligence Agency, Pentagon, 2E238, Washington, DC 20340-1029, (202) 697-3945.
Air Force Nonappropriated Fund Employees. Office of General Counsel, Air Force Services Agency, 10100 Reunion Place, Suite 503, San Antonio, TX 78216-4138, (210) 652-7051.
For civilian employees of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps who are employed outside the United States, serve the following offices:
Army Civilian Employees in Europe. Commander, 266th Theater Finance Command, ATTN: AEUCF-CPF, APO AE 09007-0137, 011-49-6221-57-6303/2136, DSN 370-6303/2136.
Army Civilian Employees in Japan. Commander, U.S. Army Finance and Accounting Office, Japan, ATTN: APAJ-RM-FA-E-CP, Unit 45005, APO AP 96343-0087, DSN 233-3362.
Army Civilian Employees in Korea. Commander, 175th Finance and Accounting Office, Korea, ATTN: EAFC-FO (Civilian Pay), Unit 15300, APO AP 96205-0073, 011-822-791-4599, DSN 723-4599.
Army Civilian Employees in Panama. DCSRM Finance & Accounting Office, ATTN: SORM-FAP-C, Unit 7153, APO AA 34004-5000, 011-507-287-6766, DSN 287-5312.
Navy and Marine Corps Civilian Employees Overseas. Director of the Office of Civilian Personnel Management, Office of Counsel, Office of Civilian Personnel Management (OCPM-OL), Department of the Navy, 800 N. Quincy Street, Arlington, VA 22203-1990, (703) 696-4717.
Navy and Marine Corps Nonappropriated Fund Employees. The agents are the same as those designated to receive garnishment orders of Navy and Marine Corps nonappropriated fund personnel for the collection of child support and alimony, published at 32 CFR part 734 (1994 ed.), except as follows:
For non-civil service civilian personnel of the Navy Exchanges or related nonappropriated fund instrumentalities administered by the Navy Exchange Service Command: Commander, Navy Exchange Service Command, ATTN: Human Resources Beverly Building, 3280 Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23453-5274, (804) 631-3675.
For non-civil service civilian personnel of Marine Corps nonappropriated fund instrumentalities, process may be served on the Commanding Officer of the employing activity ATTN: Morale, Welfare and Recreation Director.
Department of the Interior. Chief, Payroll Operations Division Attn: Code: D-2605, Bureau of Reclamation. Administrative Service Center, Department of the Interior, P.O. Box 272030, 7201 West Mansfield Avenue, Denver, CO 80227-9030, (303) 969-7739.