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Democrats Reintroduce Bill to Stop Social Security Benefits from Garnishment


Democrats have reintroduced a bill during President Biden’s ongoing battle over student debt forgiveness to restore federal protections for Social Security benefits to prevent them from garnishment by the federal government for the repayment of all non-tax federal debt.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) reintroduced the legislation on Thursday in the Senate, along with Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and John B. Larson (D-Conn) in the House.

Citing a Government Accountability Office report on student loan debt, Wyden said at least 114,000 Americans have had their Social Security garnished because they could not make their student loan repayments.

The same report found the number of retirees and people with disabilities whose Social Security benefits were seized by the government to pay off student loans increased more than five-fold between 2002 and 2016, driving many into poverty. 

The number of people age 60 and older who still have student loan debt has increased six-fold since 2004 to 3.5 million and the amount they owe is now 19-fold, amounting to more than $125 billion in student loans. More than 60% of older borrowers with outstanding student loan debt say they do not have enough savings to cover their expenses for three months in an emergency.

The Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act would restore federal protections of Social Security benefits and protect railroad retirement and black lung benefits.

The legislation is endorsed by a number of organizations, including the Alliance for Retired Americans, Strengthen Social Security Coalition, Social Security Works, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, AFL-CIO, Justice in Aging, the American Federation of Government Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives and the National Association of Disability Representatives.