Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Student loans -- Feds can take Social Security

A person's benefits can pay off old student loans

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the government can seize a person's Social Security benefits to pay old student loans.
Retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the decision that went against a disabled man, James Lockhart, who contends he needs all of his $874 monthly check to pay for food and medication.
His government benefits had been cut by 15 percent to cover debts he incurred for college in the 1980s.
The Bush administration had maintained that the case was important because outstanding student loans total about $33 billion, which includes about $7 billion in delinquent debt. Of the delinquent loans, about half are over 10 years old, government lawyers have said.
Justices were called on to clarify federal laws that sent conflicting messages about the collection of loans that are more than a decade old.

Being a student of course, I have a dog in this one... I was surprised to hear how many "older" students commenting that they weren't worried about the student loans because they won't live long enough to pay them off... while, the truth of the matter is that they're not taking into consideration is that they will still owe money even through retirement, so important planning is crucial when excepting these loans.

I am being faced with that same decision, next fall I will be graduating with my associates degree and over $20,000 in debt, if I continue on to my bachelors it is estimated another four years at least of schooling with an additional estimated $80,000 more of a debt.

I will probably be 56 years old by the time I gradually with a bachelors degree, so it makes it for very tough decision whether or not to continue.

I'm not too keen on the fact that the courts ruled that money can be taken from Social Security, but on the other hand, you did sign a commissary note when you borrowed the money which makes you responsible for the loan, however, I also think that the court should be flexible on the ability to repay as well.


Blogger Mr. Viddy said...

I am not that close to Social Security age but I had a bad experience with the IRS and Department of Education taking my tax refunds for two years in a row to pay off old student loans.

It was partially my fault as I allowed a portion to go into default so the first year that they took my refund I understood, but after that I received a letter stating that the loan had been paid in full. The following year, I filed and was expecting a nice refund. After the date had passed when the refund was to have been deposited into my account I contacted the IRS who informed me that the refund was taken to pay off an outstanding student loan. I was livid, I explained how this debt was already paid, they asked for proof, even though they were the one who had sent the letter stating it had been paid. Long story short, I had to send a copy of the letter to both the IRS and Department of Education and then wait almost 5 months to get my refund.

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