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Lawsuit against feds over garnishment of recipient's SSD

When a person makes the decision to file for social security disability income, it isn't a decision one takes lightly. Filing for benefits related to an injury or illness means that that person is unable to work and needs help in order to make ends meet. Some people have illnesses that span a lifetime, and due to their illness, require the funds of social security disability benefits for illnesses to pay for necessities. One such person was receiving disability benefits for years when one day the federal government began to deduct a portion of his benefits from his social security check.

After some investigation, the social security recipient learned that the reason for the deduction in his check was due to outstanding federal student loans the man took out after returning from deployment. He was going to school but was unable to complete his degree and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He has been on social security disability ever since, but in the last year was hit with the deductions from his check, which he later learned was actually unnecessary. This is because, due to his circumstances, the federal student loans he originally took out could be forgiven, if legal action is taken.

The process took months; all the while the man's income was deducted $177 per month, which is a hefty loss from his monthly check of $1184. Had the man been aware of the ability to write-off his student loans, the garnishment may never have started or continued for as long as it had. Since the federal government does not need a court order to garnish wages of this type, they have come under scrutiny since they often hire third-party debt collectors to handle the collection of debts from garnishments like that of the ex-military man. Over 60,000 borrowers had their social security benefits garnished below the poverty line in 2015, a GAO report discovered.

Not everyone's previous student loan debt is able to be wiped clean. However, there are many whose debt can be forgiven due to their circumstances. Many are not even aware of this possibility, nor of the fact that the government can garnish benefit checks in this manner. The government does not need legal approval to make their decision to garnish wages, but legal action much be taken on behalf of the person who's wages have been garnished.

Source: marketwatch.com, "This lawsuit claims feds needlessly force disabled borrowers to lose benefits over student loans," Jillian Berman, December 31, 2016

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