My Mother-In-Law Lives With Us. Can They Take Her Social Security? – Peggy

“Dear Steve,

My mother-in-law lives with us. She collects social security and she does not work. However the money she gets from SS she pays a credit card bill and a student loan (she went back to college at 50). She never has any money for anything else due to paying back her debts. We can’t help her because we have bills of our own and 2 kids.

My question is, if she were to default on the student loan and credit card could they take her social security? She doesn’t need credit for anything because she doesn’t plan on buying a home or car, she doesn’t even have a drivers license.


Dear Peggy,

Government backed student loans can garnish social security benefits. She should contact her lender and see what special programs are available to help reduce the payment. If it is a government backed loan then the Income Based Repayment Program (IBR) would be a good place to start.

If she defaults on the credit card she will go into collections, potentially be sued, and might get a judgment against her. However if her only income is social security and she has no other assets they can’t garnish the social security.

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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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