How Is Student Loan Debt Considered With Social Security?

By December 14, 2022 No Comments

Social Security helps more than 50 million Americans every year to make ends meet once they have stopped working. Retirement or disability are just two potential reasons an individual would begin receiving benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers four types of benefits that can significantly help those requiring them. Each type of benefit is designed to meet a specific need. Student loan debt has the potential to impact Social Security benefits significantly, so in this article, we’ll discuss the different types of Social Security and how student loan debt can affect them.

Retirement Benefits

Retirement benefits are for those 62 or older, and the monthly amount is based on your pre-retirement earnings and the age at which you decide to start receiving the benefits. Normally, an individual must have worked for at least ten years to be eligible for retirement benefits. Social Security is not meant to be your only source of income during your retirement years but rather an additional income to supplement your 401(k) or pension. Your spouse may also be eligible for retirement benefits even if they have not paid into the program.

Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed for those who cannot work due to a disability. Like retirement benefits, the monthly amount is based on the number of years you worked prior to your disability and the earnings you received while working. The amount of work required will depend upon the age you are when you begin receiving SSDI. The SSA has a list of disabilities that automatically qualify for benefits. If your disability is not on this list, you can still qualify if you are unable to work full-time due to your disability.

Survivors Benefits

Survivors benefits are designed to help widows and widowers bridge financial gaps after their husbands or wives have passed away. As of 2015, these benefits are available to married same-sex couples as well. The amount of the benefit received will depend upon many factors. The worker’s age when they died, how much their earnings were, the age of the survivor, and the survivor’s relation to the worker, are all factors that will be examined. This benefit is also available to the children of the deceased. A one-time payment of $225 is also available to survivors. This is sometimes referred to as the “death benefit.”

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit for those who have limited income and assets and are disabled or are 65 or older. These benefits may be available to those who do not have the prior earnings to qualify for retirement benefits or disability benefits.

How Does Student Loan Debt Affect Social Security?

Student loans will not affect your Social Security benefits as long as you don’t fall behind on your payments. If you begin to default on your federal loans, however, the government can garnish some of your benefits. Specifically, they can garnish up to 15% of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or your retirement benefits. However, your Social Security benefits cannot be reduced to less than $750 a month.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cannot be garnished. Also, only federal loans can garnish your Social Security. Private loans cannot impact your Social Security because private lenders cannot access your government benefits.

Additional Questions

Some may wonder if you are still eligible for Social Security if you have student loan debt. You are. Neither federal nor private loans can make you ineligible for Social Security.

Others may wonder if you are still required to pay back student loans once you’re found to be eligible for Social Security. You are. However, the government does offer income-driven repayment plans that are based on your income and family size. If you are retired, and your only income comes from retirement benefits, it is possible for the payments to be reduced to $0.


If you have questions about Social Security benefits or student loan debt, call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law, at (541) 434-6466.