This Could Cause Millions of Americans to Lose Their Social Security Benefits

By Ehsteem Arif

Published on:

Joe Biden

Losing your Social Security benefits after working your entire life can be devastating. Unfortunately, this is the reality for millions of Americans who are seeing their monthly benefits reduced due to student debt. While it’s often assumed that student loan debt is an issue for younger individuals, a significant number of older Americans are also burdened by it.

In fact, 2.2 million people over the age of 55 still owe money on their student loans. When they retire, these individuals risk losing up to 15% of their Social Security benefits if they have outstanding student debt.


Why Benefits Are Lost

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the average retirement benefit is $1,900 per month. New findings from the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School indicate that student debt significantly hampers older workers’ ability to retire comfortably.

If you have student debt, you could potentially lose around $286 per month due to garnishment of Social Security benefits, which occurs when federal student loans become delinquent. This garnishment reduces retirement income, prompting calls for legislative changes to prevent this from happening.


Policy Changes

The study emphasizes the need for policy changes, such as cutting Social Security benefits less and enhancing student loan forgiveness initiatives. One such initiative is the Savings on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan introduced by the Biden administration.

This plan aims to reduce the time required for debt relief and mandates monthly payments only when borrowers’ income exceeds a predetermined threshold. However, these changes might not be enough to prevent retirees from losing their Social Security benefits.


Insufficient Assistance

The Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis found that older individuals with substantial debt will likely repay their student loans well into their old age. Fed data shows that workers aged 55-64 typically need over 11 years to pay off their college loans, while those over 65 require about 3.5 years.

Despite the Biden administration forgiving $167 billion in student loan debt for 4.75 million Americans, this relief is limited to certain groups, such as public sector employees. Many older Americans still struggle with student debt.


The Burden on Older Borrowers

Most older student loan debtors are middle-class workers aged 55 and above. Unlike younger borrowers, older individuals have fewer working years left and less time to save for retirement, making it harder to see a return on their educational investment. Lower-income individuals bear a disproportionate share of this debt burden.

For example, half of all borrowers over 55 who are still working earn less than $54,600 annually. This makes saving for retirement difficult while still paying off loans. As these individuals age and retire, they may rely more heavily on Social Security benefits. Furthermore, some may not be able to retire at all, joining millions of Americans still working at age 65. Notably, 14.9% of these 55+ workers haven’t completed the degree for which they borrowed, meaning they must repay loans without the anticipated increase in income a degree would bring.


The situation is dire for many older Americans with student debt. Losing a portion of Social Security benefits can severely impact their financial stability during retirement. While policy changes like the SAVE Plan offer some relief, more comprehensive solutions are needed to address this growing issue. Ensuring that older workers can retire comfortably without the burden of student debt requires significant legislative action and support.

Ending with some questions, the reality is clear: How will the government address this issue moving forward? Will more targeted relief programs be implemented? Only time will tell.



Why do retirees lose Social Security benefits over student debt?

Retirees lose benefits due to delinquent federal student loans.

How much can Social Security benefits be reduced?

Benefits can be reduced by up to 15%.


Are there policy changes to help retirees with student debt?

Yes, initiatives like the SAVE Plan aim to help.

How long do older borrowers take to repay student loans?

Older borrowers need 11+ years to repay loans.


Can older workers receive student loan forgiveness?

Forgiveness is limited to certain groups like public sector employees.


Disclaimer- We are committed to fair and transparent journalism. Our Journalists verify all details before publishing any news. For any issues with our content, please contact us via email. 

Ehsteem Arif

A tax law expert with a knack for breaking down complex regulations into digestible insights. Ehsteem's articles on the tax news blog offer invaluable guidance to readers navigating changes in tax legislation.

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