Student Loans and Social Security: What Do I Need to Know?

As we reported recently, lenders can garnish Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments if you default on a student loan. gavel and flag

Sadly, in 2013, more than 156,000 Americans had their Social Security checks garnished because of student loan defaults.

The Washington Post had a heartbreaking story last month about a man whose life has been sidetracked with severe refractory epilepsy, leaving him unable to work and unable to pay his student loans.

The man, Edgar Zakata, suffers from convulsions, and there is nothing doctors can do to help his condition. Unfortunately, with the disability leaving him unable to work, he was not able to repay $33,000 he owed in federal and private student loans.

Fortunately, the Department of Education discharged $25,000 of Zakata’s loans, but private lender Sallie Mae did not let the $8,000 it was owed discharge. Instead, it  demanded medical  and Social Security records.

Even with records from his doctor and the Social Security Administration, Sallie Mae denied his request for discharge, saying Zakata knew about his condition before he took out the loans. It should be noted that Zakata’s condition has worsened since the loans were taken out.

“The guy at Sallie Mae told me, ‘If I knew I had seizures, then why did I apply?’” Zakata said, according to the Post. “I told him that at the time, they were under control. I had a life. I was driving. I had a job. I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

Eventually, after working with a private attorney and contacting the media, Zakata’s lender discharged the loans.

How Can I Obtain Social Security Benefits?

For information about applying for SSDI benefits, you can visit our Social Security FAQ page. Again, this story shows the importance of how legislation needs to be passed to allow those who are disabled to seek student loan relief.

Currently, Americans have $1.12 trillion in student loan debts, which is more than credit card debt. Unlike credit card debt, which can be eliminated through bankruptcy, it is incredibly difficult to have student loan debt discharged.

On Friday, we will discuss the condition Zakata suffered from, epilepsy, and how you may be able to collect SSDI if you are a victim. For more information, call our office today.

Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security disability lawyers


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