United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Sep 28, 2023
Nonassignability and exempt status of benefits
Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law, and such payments made to, or on account of, a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy, or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary. The preceding sentence shall not apply to claims of the United States arising under such laws nor shall the exemption therein contained as to taxation extend to any property purchased in part or wholly out of such payments. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit the assignment of insurance otherwise authorized under chapter 19 of this title, or of servicemen’s indemnity.
For the purposes of this subsection, in any case where a payee of an educational assistance allowance has designated the address of an attorney-in-fact as the payee’s address for the purpose of receiving a benefit check and has also executed a power of attorney giving the attorney-in-fact authority to negotiate such benefit check, such action shall be deemed to be an assignment and is prohibited.
This paragraph is intended to clarify that, in any case where a beneficiary entitled to compensation, pension, or dependency and indemnity compensation enters into an agreement with another person under which agreement such other person acquires for consideration the right to receive such benefit by payment of such compensation, pension, or dependency and indemnity compensation, as the case may be, except as provided in subparagraph (B), and including deposit into a joint account from which such other person may make withdrawals, or otherwise, such agreement shall be deemed to be an assignment and is prohibited.
Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), nothing in this paragraph is intended to prohibit a loan involving a beneficiary under the terms of which the beneficiary may use the benefit to repay such other person as long as each of the periodic payments made to repay such other person is separately and voluntarily executed by the beneficiary or is made by preauthorized electronic funds transfer pursuant to the Electronic Funds Transfers Act (15 U.S.C. 1693 et seq.).
Any agreement or arrangement for collateral for security for an agreement that is prohibited under subparagraph (A) is also prohibited and is void from its inception.
This section shall prohibit the collection by setoff or otherwise out of any benefits payable pursuant to any law administered by the Secretary and relating to veterans, their estates, or their dependents, of any claim of the United States or any agency thereof against (1) any person other than the indebted beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate; or (2) any beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate except amounts due the United States by such beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate by reason of overpayments or illegal payments made under such laws to such beneficiary or the beneficiary’s estate or to the beneficiary’s dependents as such. If the benefits referred to in the preceding sentence are insurance payable by reason of yearly renewable term insurance, United States Government life insurance, or National Service Life Insurance issued by the United States, the exemption provided in this section shall not apply to indebtedness existing against the particular insurance contract upon the maturity of which the claim is based, whether such indebtedness is in the form of liens to secure unpaid premiums or loans, or interest on such premiums or loans, or indebtedness arising from overpayments of dividends, refunds, loans, or other insurance benefits.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the Secretary may, after receiving a request under paragraph (2) of this subsection relating to a veteran, collect by offset of any compensation or pension payable to the veteran under laws administered by the Secretary the uncollected portion of the amount of any indebtedness associated with the veteran’s participation in a plan prescribed in chapter 73 of title 10.
If the Secretary concerned (as defined in section 101(5) of title 37) has tried under section 3711(a) of title 31 to collect an amount described in paragraph (1) of this subsection in the case of any veteran, has been unable to collect such amount, and has determined that the uncollected portion of such amount is not collectible from amounts payable by that Secretary to the veteran or that the veteran is not receiving any payment from that Secretary, that Secretary may request the Secretary to make collections in the case of such veteran as authorized in paragraph (1) of this subsection.
A collection authorized by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures prescribed in section 3716 of title 31 for administrative offset collections made after attempts to collect claims under section 3711(a) of such title.
For the purposes of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, as used in the second sentence of section 3716(a) of title 31—
the term “records of the agency” shall be considered to refer to the records of the department of the Secretary concerned; and
the term “agency” in clauses (3) and (4) shall be considered to refer to such department.
Funds collected under this subsection shall be credited to the Department of Defense Military Retirement Fund under chapter 74 of title 10 or to the Retired Pay Account of the Coast Guard, as appropriate.
Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, payments of benefits under laws administered by the Secretary shall not be exempt from levy under subchapter D of chapter 64 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 6331 et seq.).
In the case of a person who—
has been determined to be eligible to receive pension or compensation under laws administered by the Secretary but for the receipt by such person of pay pursuant to any provision of law providing retired or retirement pay to members or former members of the Armed Forces or commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or of the Public Health Service; and
files a waiver of such pay in accordance with section 5305 of this title in the amount of such pension or compensation before the end of the one-year period beginning on the date such person is notified by the Secretary of such person’s eligibility for such pension or compensation,
the retired or retirement pay of such person shall be exempt from taxation, as provided in subsection (a) of this section, in an amount equal to the amount of pension or compensation which would have been paid to such person but for the receipt by such person of such pay.
(Pub. L. 85–857,
Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1229, § 3101; Pub. L. 94–502, title VII, § 701, Oct. 15, 1976, 90 Stat. 2405; Pub. L. 95–479, title III, § 301, Oct. 18, 1978, 92 Stat. 1564; Pub. L. 97–295, § 4(74), Oct. 12, 1982, 96 Stat. 1310; Pub. L. 99–576, title V, § 504, title VII, § 701(68), Oct. 28, 1986, 100 Stat. 3286, 3296; Pub. L. 101–189, div. A, title XIV, § 1404(b)(2), Nov. 29, 1989, 103 Stat. 1586; Pub. L. 102–25, title VII, § 705(c)(2), Apr. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 120; renumbered § 5301 and amended Pub. L. 102–40, title IV, § 402(b)(1), (d)(1), May 7, 1991, 105 Stat. 238, 239; Pub. L. 102–54, § 14(d)(2), June 13, 1991, 105 Stat. 285; Pub. L. 102–83, § 4(a)(1), (2)(A)(vii), (b)(1), (2)(E), (4)(C), Aug. 6, 1991, 105 Stat. 403–405; Pub. L. 102–86, title V, § 505(a), Aug. 14, 1991, 105 Stat. 426; Pub. L. 108–183, title VII, § 702, Dec. 16, 2003, 117 Stat. 2671.)
cite as: 38 USC 5301