Respond to a bank levy

If you received a Notice of Levy (form EJ-150), the other side has a court order that lets the sheriff take money from your bank account to pay off the money you owe. This is called bank levy.

You can ask the court to stop the bank levy if the money is protected (exempt) from collections. This is called a Claim of Exemption

Before you start

Figure out if your money is exempt from a bank levy

Some kinds of money can't be taken in a bank levy (it's exempt). For example, money you need to support you and your family's basic needs is exempt.

Money from certain sources is exempt. For example:

  • Social Security
  • Social Security disability (SSD)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Public Pensions

You can see a more complete list in Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgments (form EJ-155).

If your money is exempt, you must act quickly to stop the bank levy

You must send a Claim of Exemption within 15 days of when you received the Notice of Levy (20 days if you received it in the mail). If you wait longer than this, the sheriff will give the other side the money and you won't get it back.

How to ask for an exemption

  • Fill out court forms

    Fill out these 2 forms:

    This tells the court and the other side why you need the exemption. You need to write the specific law (the code section) that makes the money exempt on this form. Exemptions from the Enforcement of Judgments (form EJ-155) has a list of some of the laws.

    This explains your financial situation so the judge and other side can see why you need the exemption.

  • Make copies

    Make 2 copies of your forms. Keep 1 copy for yourself. 

  • Give the Claim to the levying officer

    Take or mail the original and 1 copy to the levying officer. You can find out who the levying officer is by looking at the upper right-hand corner of the Notice of Levy (form EJ-150). This is usually your local sheriff, but not always.  

    The sheriff (or levying officer) keeps the original and sends a copy to the other side. 

  • Wait to see if the other side files anything

    The other side has 10 days to file a form in court saying if they disagree.

    • If they don't file anything 
      Your claim is approvedThe sheriff will return the money.
    • If they file a form saying they disagree
      You will have a court date where a judge will decide. Go the the next steps below to find out what happens next.

Small claims collections

What's next?

If the other side didn't respond, you are done. You got the exemption.

If the other side responded, you will have a court date where a judge will decide your claim.

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