Student loan debt isn’t just a problem for young people. More than 700,000 households led by someone 65 or older have student loan debt – and the Treasury Department will actually take money out of people’s Social Security checks to pay back these student loans.
Last year, Senator Claire McCaskill and I [Warren-MA] asked the Government Accountability Office—the federal government’s watchdog—to investigate this garnishment program, and today GAO reported their findings. The government has collected $1.1 billion from the Social Security checks of seniors and Americans with disabilities to pay for student loans, and 71% of that money isn’t even paying down the debt – it’s just going to fees and interest. That means the federal government is boosting its student loan profits while shoving tens of thousands of Americans who depend on Social Security to make ends meet deeper into poverty. No wonder many Americans don’t think Washington works for them.
The GAO report is clear: Social Security garnishment for student loans is predatory and counterproductive. Congress should pass the Benefits Restoration Act (S. 2387) – a bill I’m cosponsoring – to put a stop to it.