Happy 2024 everyone!
With the new year comes new minimum wage requirements across Washington State. These new requirements create new exemption amounts for garnishments. The exemption amount varies based on the type of debt being garnished.
These amounts only apply to wage garnishments and are irrelevant for ongoing (as opposed to delinquent) child support being enforced.
Highest minimum wage in the state - private student loans
Seatac once more has the maintains the lead in 2024 with highest wage in the State at $19.71 per hour as a generally applicable highest minimum wage. However, it is unclear if that amount will control or if Seattle's 2024 ordinance of $19.97 for large employers should control. This issue has never been determined before. This controls the exemption amount for private student loan collection which is calculated at either 85% or 50x the highest minimum wage in the state. Collection agencies and those regularly collecting on private student loan debt should consider using caution and adopting the following exemption amounts representing the Seattle large employer rate:
State minimum wage - Consumer debt:
Consumer debt exemptions are based on either 80% of disposable income or 35 times the state minimum wage which is now (2024) set at $16.28.
Remember, what is consumer debt is not always obvious. However, some types of debts are almost always consumer debt including: medical, credit card, residential (e.g. unpaid rent), and purchased debt.
Federal minimum wage - Non Consumer, non-child support, "other"
Federal minimum wage remains unchanged and applies to general non-consumer, non-student loan, non child support, non spousal support type debts. Those amounts are unchanged from last year.
What to do?
Law firms and form providers should be careful to adjust exemption claims and, especially, garnishment answer forms. If any outstanding wage garnishments are in place as the new year dawns some adjustment and partial releases may be required.
Consumers should be aware of and monitoring wage garnishments for employer compliance when applicable. Also, consumers should always consider contacting the attorney representing the garnishing creditor to make payment arrangements in lieu of ongoing garnishments.
For further information see:
If you need legal assistance enforcing a judgment, starting a garnishment, or collecting on a debt, we are here to help.