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Ellison and progressives call for end to Social Security garnishment for student debt

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Ellison co-chairs, is joining with other groups to protest the law that allows Social Security to deduct benefits from those who owe on their own, or their children’s, student loans.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which he co-chairs, will speak out Thursday against the federal practice of garnishment of Social Security benefits from recipients with outstanding student debt.

The group says about 130,000 Social Security recipients are getting reduced benefits because they still owe on their own, or their children’s, student loans.

A Marketwatch story says the issue will continue because more than 3 million Americans ages 50 to 64 are in default on their student loans and are at risk of the Social Security garnishment.

The caucus, along with many other groups, will formally ask the Department of Education to use its authority to end the practice. They say they have 300,o00 signatures on a petition to back their demands.

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The Marketwatch story features an 80-year-old woman in Brooklyn with Alzheimer’s who hasn’t paid back a federal loan for cosmetology school in  the 1980s, and now has  $134 is withheld from her $894 Social Security benefit each month.

The story says:

When a borrower is delinquent on her student loan for at least 425 days, the Department of Education has the authority to initiate the process of administrative offset. Through this mechanism, the Treasury Department withholds portions of a borrower’s tax refund or Social Security benefits and puts it toward paying off the loan. There are reasons borrowers in default may be exempt from administrative offset, like if their debt falls below a given threshold or if their monthly Social Security check is relatively small.

Other groups joining the Caucus tomorrow at the Department of Education office in Washington, D.C., include: the AFL-CIO, Alliance for Retired Americans, Student Debt Crisis, Social Security Works, Project Springboard, CREDO, Campaign for America’s Future, Demos, Center for Global Policy Solutions, Courage Campaign, Justice in Aging, and Other 98%.