An aspect of repaying student loan debt that’s not often considered is garnishment. Most often with wages, it’s also possible for Social Security benefits to be garnished as well. This applies to family members who might have taken out loans on someone’s behalf, but are locked in repayment. At an older age, such a financial strain can be overwhelming.
Republican Patrick Murphy, however, has proposed the “Murphy bill,” which seeks to end garnishment of Social Security altogether. HR 3697, however, may have trouble getting down the pipeline, as if one form of payment disappears, another part has to make up for it. Proponents consider it a big step for the middle class while skeptics don’t think it will pass, or they see it as simple grandstanding.
The reasoning for the bill is based on a list of troubles for those with Social Security. Last fiscal year, over 800,000 people had their benefits garnished, totaling to about $382 million. The amount of people owing the federal government for student loans has also risen dramatically. From 2002 to 2013, borrowers went from 35,000 to over 115,000. Even more alarming, a good portion of these borrowers were 65 or older, the amount increasing from 9000 to 36,000. In total, those at least 65 owe in total 18 billion in debt repayment, a hefty figure indeed.
As dire as the situation for many is, skeptics do not think much of Murphy’s bill becoming law. Various critics suggest it’s poor timing amidst a boiling political election, while others mock Murphy for wanting to use it as a simple headline to gain voters. Others have even pointed out that Murphy himself has voted against expanding Social Security benefits, contradicting his garnishment-removal bill.
If anything, the proposition has highlighted many of the old, long gone protective acts that kept things like Social Security free of garnishment. Proponents of Murphy’s idea say it’s a small step in the right direction, and the loss of those mentioned protective acts have led to the nightmarish student loan debt size.
As it currently stands, Murphy’s bill doesn’t possess enough backers to be a law. And, it’s not the wisest idea to expect it to. But, some find it positive, at the very least, that trends relating to the relief of inflated student debt are cropping up more frequently, even if it is just for votes. It remains to be seen what becomes of the proposition, optimism and cynicism aside.