Administrative Wage Garnishment Background
Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG) is a debt collection process that allows a federal agency to order a non-federal employer to withhold up to 15 percent of an employee's disposable income to pay a delinquent non-tax debt owed to the agency.
Fiscal Service, on behalf of a federal agency, may issue a wage garnishment order to a non-federal employer to collect a delinquent federal non-tax debt. A court order does not need to be obtained. The order will require the employer to withhold and send the amounts deducted to Fiscal Service for payment to the federal agency. The AWG process is governed by federal law. State laws do not apply.
If the debtor requests a hearing within 15 business days following the mailing of the written notice to the debtor, a hearing must be held before Fiscal Service issues a wage garnishment order. If the debtor requests a hearing more than 15 business days after the notice, a hearing will still be provided; however, Fiscal Service will issue the garnishment order before the hearing concludes. A hearing may be requested on the existence or amount of the debt, or the terms of the proposed repayment schedule under the garnishment order (hardship).
If you have filed for bankruptcy and an automatic bankruptcy stay is in effect, please notify us. We will not garnish your pay while the stay is in effect. Your requirement to notify us is complete upon receipt of a phone call or written notice providing details of the bankruptcy. Also, inform us if you have not held your current job for at least 12 months, and you were involuntarily separated from your last job. Contact Fiscal Service using the contact information below.
The hearing official will determine whether the hearing will be oral or written. If the official determines that an oral hearing is appropriate, the debtor will be notified of when and where the hearing will be held, and whether the hearing will be in-person or by telephone. The debtor will have to pay any travel expenses for an in-person hearing.
The AWG process is authorized by 31 U.S.C. 3720D and the corresponding regulation at 31 CFS 285.11. Federal agencies must use Standard Form 329 (SF-329) to issue AWG orders.
DMS and its private collection agencies (PCAs) will assist the federal agencies by identifying debtors eligible for AWG. A federal agency may not garnish wages if a debtor has not been in their current job for at least 12 months and was involuntarily separated from their previous job. In addition, DMS and its PCAs will monitor collections under the AWG order to ensure employer compliance.
All federal agencies are required to participate in AWG through DMS' Cross-Servicing program. Federal agencies must publish AWG regulations and establish hearing procedures before they are eligible to participate in the AWG program. Federal agencies have the option of conducting the hearings in-house or allowing DMS to conduct AWG hearings on their behalf.