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General Motors Acceptance Corp. v. Falcone

October 25, 1974

GENERAL MOTORS ACCEPTANCE CORP., PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSEPH FALCONE, DEFENDANT



Longhi, P.J.D.C.

Longhi

[130 NJSuper Page 518] On April 22, 1974 plaintiff obtained judgment against defendant in the sum of $623.89 plus costs. The judgment not having been paid, plaintiff executed on the judgment and on June 22, 1974 levied on $145.39 in

defendant's checking account. Plaintiff now seeks an order directing the bank to pay over to the constable the monies levied upon. Defendant resists the order on the ground that the funds levied upon derive solely from social security and workmen's compensation benefits and are exempt.

Defendant's sole means of support, for himself and his family, are a monthly social security check in the amount of $518.10 and semi-monthly workmen's compensation checks in the amount of $160.00.

While on the date of the bank levy there was only $145.39 in defendant's checking account, his total deposit for June, up to the date of levy, were $900.10. Of these monies $518.10 represented social security benefits and $342.00 represented the residue of workmen's compensation checks.

It is clear that monies obtained from social security benefits are exempt from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment or other legal process, even after they have been paid to the debtor. 42 U.S.C.A. ยง 407; Philpott v. Essex County Welfare Board, 409 U.S. 413, 93 S. Ct. 590, 34 L. Ed. 2d 608 (1973).

The question presented to the court is whether the exemption provided in the Workmen's Compensation Act applies to monies after payment to a debtor.

The relevant portion of the Workmen's Compensation Act, N.J.S.A. 34:15-29 provides:

Claims or payments due under this chapter shall not be assignable, and shall be exempt from all claims of creditors and from levy, execution or attachment.

At issue is the meaning to be given the phrase "Claims or payments due," but more specifically the word "due." Plaintiff urges that once payments have been made they are no longer "due" and thus the exemption no longer applies. In support of his position plaintiff cites Beierlein v. Faulkner, 15 Misc. 313, 190 A. 853 (D. Ct. 1937).

Beierlein involved a similar factual pattern. The court there construed the phrase "Claims or payments due" in its

strictest sense. The court viewed the purpose behind the exemption as administrative in nature, intended to avoid confusion in the Workmen's Compensation Division, thereby relieving the Division of extra bookkeeping duties and conflicting claims of ownership. Beierlein has not been followed and has more or less withered on the vine. In any event I feel that the result ...


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