I’m Profoundly Deaf, 73, and Getting My Social Security Garnished for Student Loan Debt


Dear Steve,

I am age 73 and disabled and also profoundly deaf. I can NOT understand people when they speak to me. I can NOT even use a phone.

My social security disability payments have been garnished by the U.S. Dept of Education. I WAS receiving $920/month. I am NOW receiving $782/ month. I do not have ANY other source of income. I do NOT own a single thing of value, not even an old car. I may soon be homeless because of the garnishment.

A.) How long does it take to get a bankruptcy?

B.) What would an attorney charge to do that bankruptcy?

C.) Would an attorney help with a financial hardship discharge?



Dear Richard,

I wish you had contacted me when you were first notified. We probably could have stopped the garnishment.

You should read How to Easily Stop a Social Security Wage Garnishment.

But more importantly, you say this is the result of being delinquent on some federal student loan you are responsible for.

This could have all been avoided if the loan(s) were in an income-driven repayment plan. The monthly payment would probably have been zero dollars a month.

Hopefully, you’ve never tried to rehabilitate these loans before because you get one chance to do it.

I would suggest you do two things at the same time. The first is to ask to have your garnishment appealed as a hardship.

The second is to contact your student loan servicer and get on a rehabilitation plan to get these loans out of default. The rehabilitation payment will be as low as $5 a month.

However, while you are in an administrative garnishment, those payments will not count towards the rehabilitation payment. “Your loan holder may be collecting payments on your defaulted loan through wage garnishment or Treasury offset (taking all or part of your tax refunds or other government payments). These involuntary payments may continue even after you begin making payments under a loan rehabilitation agreement, but they can’t be counted toward the required nine voluntary loan rehabilitation payments. Involuntary payments may continue to be taken until your loan is no longer in default or until you have made some of your rehabilitation payments.+ – Source

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But You Have Another Choice

When you communicate with your loan servicer, tell them about your financial situation and ask to consolidate your loan(s) into a new Direct Loan to get out of default.

“Another option for getting out of default is to consolidate your defaulted federal student loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan. Loan consolidation allows you to pay off one or more federal student loans with a new consolidation loan.

To consolidate a defaulted federal student loan into a new Direct Consolidation Loan, you must either

  • agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation Loan under an income-driven repayment plan, or
  • make three consecutive, voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments on the defaulted loan before you consolidate it.

Note: If you choose to make three payments on the defaulted loan before you consolidate it, the required payment amount will be determined by your loan holder, but cannot be more than what is reasonable and affordable based on your total financial circumstances.

I’ve seen this second method work when people have been in administrative wage garnishment, but not all the time. Officially, people in garnishment are not eligible for consolidation.

If the servicer does slip up and lets you consolidate your way out of the benefit garnishment, be sure to ask to have your new consolidation loan repaid through an income-driven repayment plan.

I feel very confident if you follow this advice you will be able to put this matter behind you without turning towards an expensive and complicated bankruptcy filing.


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Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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