Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG)

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 nontax delinquent debt owed to the agency.

Treasury, on behalf of the federal agency, is authorized to issue a wage garnishment order to collect the debt. Under federal law, a court order does not need to be obtained. The employer will be required to send the amounts deducted to Treasury for payment to the federal agency. The AWG process is governed by federal law. State laws do not apply.

A debtor is entitled to a hearing before AWG begins if it is requested within 15 business days after the AWG notice letter is mailed. The federal agency may continue the AWG process if a hearing is requested after the 15-day period. A hearing may be requested concerning the existence or amount of the debt, or the terms of the proposed repayment schedule under the garnishment order (hardship).

The federal agency will determine whether the hearing will be oral or written. If the agency decides to hold an oral hearing, the agency will decide when and where the hearing will be held, and the debtor may decide whether the hearing will be in-person or by telephone. The debtor will have to pay any travel expenses for an in-person hearing.

This process is authorized by section 31001(o) of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), codified at U.S.C. 3720D. The rules and procedures governing AWG were published as a Final Rule (31 CFR 285.11) in the Federal Register on May 6, 1996 (63 FR 25136). In accordance with the Final Rule, Debt Management Services (DMS), Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service), formerly the Financial Management Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury, promulgated Standard Form 329 (SF-329)PDF file, which federal agencies are required to use to issue AWG orders.

DMS and its private collection agencies (PCA's) 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, the PCA's and DMS will monitor collections under the AWG order to ensure employer compliance.

The Receivables Management & Debt Services Division within DMS has oversight and management responsibility over AWG. DSD also monitors PCA activities to ensure their compliance with AWG regulations and their contract with DMS.

All federal agencies are required to participate in AWG through DMS' Cross-Servicing program. Federal agencies must publish AWG regulations and set up hearing procedures before they are eligible to participate in the AWG program. DMS also offers hearing services on behalf of federal agencies.

Below is a list of forms for individuals, agencies and employers with step-by-step instructions to use and complete the forms.

Individuals

To request a hearing regarding the terms of the repayment schedule (hardship), a financial statementPDF file with supporting documentation must be submitted with the hearing request form received with the notice letter.

If you have questions about a wage garnishment, please call 1 (888) 826-3127.

Agencies

Agencies will prepare AWG orders using Standard Form 329PDF file. Agencies will also terminate AWG orders by using Standard Form 329EPDF file.

Employers

Click here to view the AWG Guide for Employers

Upon receipt of an AWG order, federal law requires an employer to:

  • Verify an employee’s employment.

  • Complete and return the the Wage Garnishment Worksheet, SF-329CPDF file and the Employer Certification, SF-329D (pages 8 and 9)PDF file.

    You may also use this Wage Garnishment Calculator to calculate the Wage Garnishment Amount to be deducted from the debtor's disposable pay.

  • Deduct the wage garnishment amount from the employee's wages on the first payday after receipt of the order.

  • Continue deductions until an employer receives notification from the creditor agency, DMS, or the PCA to suspend or discontinue deductions.

  • Send withheld monies to the address listed in the wage garnishment order within three days of withholding. Note: It may be addressed to a PCA, but it is a Treasury lockbox.

What happens if an employer fails to comply with an AWG order?
An employer who fails to comply with an AWG order is liable for amounts that the employer fails to withhold, plus possible penalties and fees. Noncompliance may result in legal action.

For instructions on forms, see SF-329PDF file.

Contacts

Call (202) 874-6810 or e-mail awgquestions@fms.treas.gov.

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   Last Updated:  March 25, 2014