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Home > Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts > Sallie Mae is Threatening to Garnish My SSDI Income. – Trudy

Sallie Mae is Threatening to Garnish My SSDI Income. – Trudy

“Dear Steve,

A few years ago I co-signed two private student loans for my son through Sallie Mae. I am disabled and receiving SSDI. My son has now defaulted on the loans and Sallie Mae is demanding payment from me. The loan is now with a collector who is threatening judgement. I live in the state of Hawaii. My son also lives in the state of Hawaii and has a good job and Sallie Mae is aware of this but they continue to threaten me and not him.

I am currently unemployed and receive SSDI payments for disability. From my own research I’ve learned Sallie Mae can not garnish my SSDI but can Sallie Mae freeze or garnish my bank account? The only monies going into my bank account are from Social Security.

Thank you for your help.


Dear Trudy,

Your assumptions appear to be correct. Since the money in your bank account is from public benefits you should be what people call “judgment proof” since these are private student loans. If they were government subsidized your benefits could be garnished.

You might want to contact the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii for free legal help on this matter.

Typically the lender will pursue the co-signer because that person usually has better credit and resources than the primary account holder. I would not be surprised to see them pursue your son once they run into a wall with you. Which begs me to ask, why isn’t your son paying on these loans if he’s doing alright?

There is nothing that prevents your son from contacting Sallie Mae and working out a repayment plan to prevent you from being sued.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
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.
  • Tsigili

    Trudy – You still have two options:  (1) Contact your Senators and tell them what’s happening to you. Ask them to take action to stop the garnishment of your disability benefits.  My Senator interceded on my behalf with Sallie Mae.  It will cost you nothing to ask them for help; if an election year is coming up, they will be anxious to assist you.  (2) Contact a local reporter, preferably one who is sympathetic to consumer interests.  NOBODY wants the bad publicity that a TV news story will provide – not Sallie Mae, not your son, not anyone.  You’re not the guilty party here, so don’t surrender to any manipulation.  Go for it! And good luck!


  • Trudy

    Thanks so much Steve for helping me with this situation. First thing in the morning I am going to contact Legal Aid.
    My son got over his head in student loans and he has tried working out an affordable payment plan with Sallie Mae to no success. 

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