Does Student Loan Debt Affect Social Security Benefits?
Yes, it can. According to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there was a five-fold increase between 2002 and 2013 in the number of Social Security beneficiaries whose benefits were offset to help pay down their student loan debt.
But there’s hope for some of those beneficiaries whose benefits have been garnished for that reason. If a debtor is found to be Totally and Permanently Disabled (TPD), he or she may be eligible for debt forgiveness. While a TPD determination is different than a Social Security Administration (SSA) disability finding, the Department of Education will accept a notice of award of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as proof of a debtors TPD status as long as the notice makes it clear that the beneficiary will undergo a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) once every 5-7 years.
Once a beneficiary receives a Notice of Award (NOA) from the SSA, and that notice includes information about a CDR schedule, the beneficiary can apply online for a TPD determination through the U.S. Department of Education’s online resource center. If a NOA does not contain a CDR schedule, a beneficiary may need to request official documentation of their CDR schedule from the SSA.
It is important to note that student loan debt forgiveness applies only to certain types of federal student loans. More information about the specifics is available through the SSA and the U.S. Department of Education.