How to File a Claim of Exemption


Receiving a notice of Garnishments from your employer or a letter from the bank regarding a lien can be a frightening thing. Whether you knew this was coming or not, there is action you can take.


First step is to calm down, and find some time to deal with this. DO NOT DELAY. Typically, you have 10 days from service of the Garnishment or Levy to make your argument why less money should be taken from you.


Under California law, a judgment creditor can take all of the money in your account, or up to 25% of your income unless you can demonstrate that the money is exempted. There are many, many exemptions, but for most people the focus is money spent on survival and public benefits such as social security.


It is important to remember that this is not the time or place to argue whether the debt is valid or properly obtained by the judgement creditor. This is a speedy process to stop or reduce how much money the judgment creditor can take from you right now. If you believe that your judgement was improper, you may want to pursue a Motion to Vacate.


Here is the process:

1) Obtain & fill out the proper claim of Exemption Forms

  • WG-006 for Wage Garnishment; or
  • EJ -160 for Levy (Money from bank account)


  • For a Wage Garnishment, you can offer how much you would like to pay.
  • For a Levy explain why your funds are exempted – this is dependent on the source
    • Refer to EJ-155


  • Fill out the Financial Statement
    • WG-07 or EJ-165
    • Be sure to provide an accurate estimate, if not exact details about your income and expenses. The more detail you can provide in a statement or attached, the better you will present your case for exemption.


2) Submit your Claim to Levying Officer

  • The Levying Officer is usually the sheriff and should be listed on your paperwork.
  • Feel free to call and ask them about the best way to get documents to them and how many copies you need.


  1. Your Claim is submitted to the Judgment creditor by the Levying Officer
  2. The Judgment Creditor can give up and let you keep your money or object
  3. If the Creditor objects, then the Levying officer forwards to the court for the issue to be heard by the judge.
  4. Make sure you attend and bring anything to show your income and expenses with you.




   – Jessica Dorman