Social Security Garnished for Student Loans
The law states that if you’re a borrower of 50 years or older you must repay defaulted loans with part of your Social Security benefits. As of September 2015, about 114,000 Americans had their benefits reduced.
Over 40 million Americans hold over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. Our older Americans that still hold onto that student loan debt could be taking a nasty hit. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office has found that tens of thousands of senior citizens have their Social Security benefits garnished hundreds of dollars each month to repay their defaulted federal student loans.
The law states that if you’re a borrower of 50 years or older you must repay defaulted loans with part of your Social Security benefits. As of September 2015, about 114,000 Americans had their benefits reduced. The total amount collected by the Department of Education was $4.5 billion which is a 440% increase from 2002.
A quarter of those borrowers were also seeing cuts from their Social Security for loans that were not taken out for their own education. Most borrowers owed less than $10,000 at the time they took out a loan. Even worse for borrowers in this situation is that they are charged a $15 fee for every time their Social Security was reduced.
It doesn’t stop there. In a year’s time borrowers paid $180 in offset fees. In addition, only 71% of the funds collected through the offsets were just applied to fees and interest of the loan debt. Only 28% of those funds collected are applied to the loan balance. Because of this, most borrowers will see their loan balance increase instead of making a dent in it.
Most borrowers remained in their debt for more than five years after having their benefits offset. Over 67,000 Americans over 50 who are still riddled with student loan debt lived below the poverty line, after garnishments. In 2004 there were only 8,300 borrowers in the same situation.
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