Code of the District of Columbia

§ 15–503. Earnings and other income; wearing apparel and tools of certain persons.

(a) The earnings (other than wages, as defined in subchapter III of Chapter 5 of Title 16), insurance, annuities, or pension or retirement payments, not otherwise exempted, not to exceed $200 each month, of a person residing in the District of Columbia, or of a person who earns the major portions of his livelihood in the District of Columbia, regardless of place of residence, who provides the principal support of a family, for two months next preceding the issuing of any writ or process against him, from any court or officer of and in the District, are exempt from attachment, levy, seizure, or sale upon the process, and may not be seized, levied on, taken, reached, or sold by process or proceedings of any court, judge, or other officer of and in the District. Where spouses or domestic partners are living together, the aggregate of the earnings, insurance, annuities, and pension or retirement payments of the spouses or domestic partners is the amount which shall be determinative of the exemption of either in cases arising ex contractu.

(b) The earnings (other than wages, as defined in subchapter III of Chapter 5 of Title 16), insurance, annuities, or pension or retirement payments, not otherwise exempt, not to exceed $60 each month for two months preceding the date of attachment of persons residing in the District of Columbia, or of persons who earn the major portions of their livelihood in the District of Columbia, regardless of place of residence, who do not provide for the support of a family, are entitled to like exemption from attachment, levy, seizure, or sale. All wearing apparel belonging to such persons, not exceeding $300 in value, and mechanic’s tools not exceeding $200 in value, are also exempt.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the wages (as defined in section 16-571 of the District of Columbia Official Code) of any person not residing in the District of Columbia who does not earn the major portion of such wages in the District of Columbia shall, in any case arising out of a contract or transaction entered into outside of the District of Columbia, be exempt from attachment, levy, or seizure, by any process or proceeding of any court, judge, or officer of the District of Columbia in the same amount and to the same extent as is provided by law of the State in which such person resides for persons residing therein. Whenever any claim is made for an exemption from attachment pursuant to this subsection, the burden shall be upon the plaintiff to prove that the contract or transaction involved in the case was entered into within the District of Columbia.

(d) A notice of claim of exemption, or motion to quash attachment or other process against exempt property or money, may be filed in the office of the clerk of the court either by the debtor, his spouse or domestic partner, or a garnishee. Thereupon, the court, after due notice, shall promptly act upon the notice, motion, or other claim of exemption.

(e) For the purposes of this section, the term “domestic partner” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 32-701(3).


(Dec. 23, 1963, 77 Stat. 530, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1; Oct. 21, 1970, 84 Stat. 1066, Pub. L. 91-475; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 19, 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 15-503.

1973 Ed., § 15-503.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (a), substituted “spouses or domestic partners” for “husband and wife”; in subsec. (d), substituted “spouse or domestic partner” for “spouse”; and added subsec. (e).