Skip to main content

Department of Education garnishment. SSI or SSDI, can they take the money away? social security question I guess.

Los Angeles, CA |

Hello, I am nearing the end of my deferment and forbearances on all subsidized and unsubsidized loans, they're totally MAXED Out. I have about $53,000 in student loans. Several years ago I had multiple accidents and was paralyzed; I can't work anymore. I can work but no one will hire me. I receive food stamps and Medicaid and live in non-HUD housing.
I receive SSI and the California state supplement. I've been fighting for my SSDI (about $1,100 if I ever win) for 6 years.
Two questions: 1. Can the Dept of Ed. garnish my SSI?
2. If I ever win my SSDI case (currently the 2nd time, 2nd ALJ, now at the Appeals Council stage) can the Dept of Ed. garnish SSDI?

Thank you.

In regard to bankruptcy, I have already done bankruptcy 2 times in my life (at age 19, and age 26). First bankruptcy was because of mental problems and moving abroad; had anxiety disorder and couldn't find work. Second bankruptcy was last year; medical bills and credit cards. Would a total disability paper from my doctor help me wipe out the debt without needing a 3rd bankruptcy??

+ Read More

Attorney answers 4


You may be one of those one in a million people who is eligible to discharge your student loan debts in a bankruptcy. Check with local pro bono projects to see if there is a volunteer attorney that can represent you. Otherwise, the US Dept of Ed can garnish your SSI and SSDI benefits, whereas these benefits are protected in bankruptcy. Hope this perspective helps!



What about the total and permanent disability (TPD?) that Ms. Sinclair posted about below?


1. SSI cannot be garnished for anything.

2. Social Security can be garnished for a student loan.

If your medical condition is severe enough to qualify for SSI disability, some or all of your loans may well qualify for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge. More information is here:

With regard to qualifying for SSDI, you may have an onset date issue. Remember you must have "insured status" at the time of your onset date.

Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.

This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.





As said SSI can't be garnished but Social Security can. If you filed your last Chapter 7 more than 8 years ago you might be one of the rare individuals who could actually file an Adversary Complaint in the BK court to get a discharge of your student loans. I suggest you try to contact a Legal Aid office as the BK and the Adversary could be expensive if handled by a private lawyer.


You should look into the Ford repayment programs, to see if you qualify for the Income Contingent Repayment Plan - you may find some relief there, given your circumstances. The link is below:

Nothing contained in this answer constitutes specific or complete legal advice to the questioner and is for general informational purposes only. My response is based only on the facts presented, and may change based on additional facts or different information about your situation. In other words, you are only getting the tip of the iceberg – consult with a lawyer if you think what you read here might apply to you and your situation. I am an attorney licensed to practice only in Massachusetts state and federal courts. To the extent that I am responding to a question posed by an individual in a different state, my response is given as a general opinion based only on my experience and knowledge acquired in the state and area in which I practice, and the questioner is ALWAYS advised to consult a local attorney for a more specific and definitive answer to the question posed.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer