Retirement & Financial Planning Report

More than 114,000 Social Security recipients have their benefits garnisheed to pay student loan debt, debt that in many cases was taken out on behalf of a child, grandchild or other relative’s education rather than their own, according to a report done for the Senate committee on Aging.

The report, by the GAO, said that is an increase of 540 percent over the last 10 years and that in some cases the beneficiaries fall below the poverty line as a result.


It found that the age cohort of those over 50 in student loan debt, over 7 million, is growing much faster than younger cohorts. Since 2005, those aged 65 and up saw their total student loan debt grow by 385 percent.

Thirteen percent of borrowers 50 or older at the time of their initial offset died while their loans were still outstanding.

More than 70 percent of garnisheed Social Security benefits were going toward fees and interest, and not paying down the principal balances—leaving many with a reduced standard of living and in a cycle of debt.