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Proposal would limit federal garnishment of disability checks

Although most creditors cannot garnish the Social Security Disability checks in order to collect a debt, the federal government is an important exception to this rule. Not surprisingly, many people in the Houston area owe money for things like back taxes and, perhaps more commonly, federally backed student loans.

A Houston, Texas, resident who winds up with an illness an injury that keeps them at home and unable to work may therefore have a dilemma in that they want to pay the debts they owe to the federal government but have no means of doing so. Despite the person's inability to work, the government insists on payment and has wide-ranging legal tools, including the ability to withhold a portion of a disability check, it can use order to collect.

For disabled Texans who have gotten behind on their student loans, even because of their disability, this means they may have to give up all but $750 of their monthly benefit for which they otherwise qualified. The number of people in this sort of situation is growing exponentially. According to one study, there were as of 67,300 people over 50 who have to fork over part of their Social Security check, whether for retirement or disability, to the point of being legally in poverty. In the 1990s, that number was 8,300.

Now, a new proposal is making its way through Congress which would prevent the federal government from garnishing disability checks in order to pay off delinquent student loan debt. Although the proposal failed when introduced two years ago, its sponsors are hoping the measure will pass and thereby assure that people who needs help through the disability program will actually get it.

Source: benefitspro.com, "Bill would protect Social Security against student loan debt," Marlene Y. Satter, May 1, 2017.

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