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What is a "Notice to Judgment Debtor or Obligor"?

If you've received a letter with language similar or identical to the one below, you are being put on notice that your money is at risk of being seized by a judgment creditor. To satisfy due process standards, New York law (CPLR § 5222) requires that the below notice be sent to you within one year of the creditor's service of a restraining notice on your bank. A restraining notice, signed by the judgment creditor's attorney only, operates to "freeze" or block access to your money.

Since the below sources of income are "exempt" (shielded from creditors), New York has placed the burden on creditors to notify you of these exempt sources and how to protect them.

A creditor's failure to send this notice would "necessitate vacating the restraining notice."[1] You need to act promptly if you have received one of these notices. It's not too late. I would be delighted to assist you.


Money or property belonging to you may have been taken or held to satisfy a judgment or order that has been entered against you. Read this carefully.


State and federal laws prevent certain money or property from being taken to satisfy judgments or orders. Such money or property is said to be “exempt.” The following is a partial list of money which may be exempt:

  1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI);
  2. Social Security;
  3. Public assistance (welfare);
  4. Spousal support, maintenance (alimony), or child support;
  5. Unemployment benefits;
  6. Disability benefits security income (SSI);
  7. Workers’ compensation benefits;
  8. Public or private pensions;
  9. Veterans benefits;
  10. Ninety percent of your wages or salary earned in the last 60 days;
  11. Twenty-five hundred dollars of any bank account containing statutorily exempt payments that were deposited electronically or by direct deposit within the last 45 days, including but not limited to your Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, veterans benefits, public assistance, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, public or private pensions, railroad retirement benefits, black lung benefits, or child support payments;
  12. Railroad retirement; and
  13. Black lung benefits.

If you think that any of your money that has been taken or held is exempt, you must act promptly because the money may be applied to the judgment or order. If you claim that any of your money that has been taken or held is exempt, you may contact the person sending this notice.

Also, YOU MAY CONSULT AN ATTORNEY, INCLUDING ANY FREE LEGAL SERVICES ORGANIZATION IF YOU QUALIFY. You can also go to court without an attorney to get your money back. Bring this notice with you when you go. You are allowed to try to prove to a judge that your money is exempt from collection under CPLR 5222-a, 5239, and 5240. If you do not have a lawyer, the clerk of the court may give you forms to help you prove your account contains exempt money that the creditor cannot collect. The law (CPLR 5239 and 5240) provides a procedure for determination of a claim to an exemption.

Mandatory Notice Requirements for Judgment Debtors

  • When serving a restraining notice, if no requisite notice has been given to the judgment debtor within the last year, a copy of both the restraining notice and the notice to the debtor must be delivered within four days of the restraining notice's service. (CPLR 5222(d))

  • The notice should be mailed to the debtor's residence. (CPLR 5222(d))

  • If the notice is undeliverable or if the residence address is unknown, it should be sent to the debtor's place of employment or any other known address. (CPLR 5222(d))

  • The notice's primary purpose is to inform debtors about potential exemptions and to encourage them to seek legal advice. (Contact Resource Services, LLC v. Gregory, 10 Misc. 3d 968, 806 N.Y.S.2d 407 (N.Y. City Ct. 2005); Friedman v. Mayerhoff, 156 Misc. 2d 295, 592 N.Y.S.2d 909 (N.Y. City Civ. Ct. 1992))

  • Non-compliance with these requirements can lead to the dismissal of a judgment proceeding. (Chemical Bank v. Flaherty, 121 Misc. 2d 509, 468 N.Y.S.2d 315 (N.Y. City Civ. Ct. 1983))

  • Attorneys who fail to comply may be held personally liable. (Banks v. Leef, 120 Misc. 2d 1083, 467 N.Y.S.2d 156 (Sup 1983), order aff'd, 101 A.D.2d 1034, 475 N.Y.S.2d 307 (2d Dep't 1984))

  • As of May 13, 2021, the notice requirement has been extended to include COVID-19 stimulus relief. (CPLR 5222(e), amended effective May 13, 2021)

[1] Friedman v. Mayerhoff, 156 Misc. 2d 295 (NY Civ Ct 1992)(holding that where the judgment debtors were not served with the required notice of their rights regarding a restraining notice and execution on several bank accounts, the restraining notice and execution should be vacated despite the fact that the bank advised the judgment debtors of the action in enough time for the debtors to commence legal action to protect their rights and thus suffered no actual prejudice).