Oregon War Veterans Assoc. backs bill protecting veteran funds

OWVA supports SB 731
By Oregon War Veterans Assoc.

On behalf of the directors, members and staff of Oregon War Veterans Association (OWVA), OWVA would like to voice its support for SB 731 to protect the vulnerability of Oregon War Veterans. SB 731 will protect a basic minimum level of funds (proposed at $2,500) in accounts containing reasonably identifiable exempt direct deposits from garnishment. Day after day, even more so during these tough economic times, veterans find themselves struggling to pay their bills. Even more disheartening is when veterans lose their exempt funds. Veterans often assume their money is safe when it is being directly deposited, when in reality the money can be garnished.

A garnishment often results in multiple bank overdraw fees merely adding to the pre-existing debt. Some veterans that find themselves in this situation may choose to participate in the Claim of Exemption Process. This process allows the person to go to court to fight the garnishment. Unfortunately, when participating in the Claim of Exemption Process, the individual often ends up paying additional fees. Time also becomes a factor as many people spend many weeks (sometimes months) without their exempt income.

It is important to understand that exempt funds over the minimum level of protections may still be exempt from collection. SB 731 states that the court must be the “first in, first out” method of accounting to determine which amounts are exempt from collection. This is the most commonly used principle of accounting and will not be a difficult transition.

Finally, this bill is fair to creditors because creditors are not entitled to exempt funds. If passed, SB 731 will allow creditors to avoid going through the garnishment and claim of exemption process. In addition, amounts over the minimum level will still be subject to garnishment, even if exempt. And while the minimum level of automatic protection provided by the bill may, in some cases, protect some co-mingled non-exempt funds, the reality is that the majority of these vulnerable people do not have many non-exempt funds in their accounts.

The Oregon War Veterans Association urges your support of SB 731 to protect our veterans from further economic vulnerability without attacking creditors.

Prepared by Nellie deVries, Public Affairs Director of the Oregon War Veterans Association