By Leada Gore
Federal loan borrowers who default on their loans would no longer face having their Social Security benefits garnished under the terms of a new bill.
Reps. Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, and John Larson, D-Connecticut, along with Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, reintroduced the Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act, which would prevent garnishment for repayment of all non-tax federal debt, such as student loans.
“It is plain wrong to take away the Social Security benefits seniors earned through a lifetime of work because of the increasing burden of student loan debt,” Wyden said in a statement. “It’s past time Congress protects seniors and the Social Security benefits they have earned with every paycheck.”
In a statement, Wyden points to a Government Accountability Office report showing at least 114,000 Americans have had their Social Security garnished because they could not make student loan repayment.The same report found the number of retirees and people with disabilities whose Social Security benefits were seized by the government to pay off student loans increased more than five-fold between 2002 and 2016.
Currently, some 3.5 million people age 60 and older owe student loans, accounting for some $125 billion.
The act, endorsed by a host of Social Security and senior advocacy groups, would also provide federal protection for railroad retirement and black lung benefits.