By Michael Walters, Legal Hotline Managing Attorney, Pro Seniors, Inc., and CERA Project Specialist
Ms. Z is a hotline caller who recently entered a nursing facility and who needs to apply for Medicaid. Because of a defaulted federal student loan debt (she co-signed a federally guaranteed loan for her deceased son) her Social Security check is being garnished in the amount of $150 per month to recover the debt.
The problem with Ms. Z’s scenario is that she will be unable to pay her patient liability to the nursing home due to the garnishment. She could potentially face a discharge from the facility due to the student loan debt.
On July 28th, CERA, the National Consumer Law Center, and Justice in Aging presented a webinar on Student Loan Debt Collection and Seniors. The webinar featured Persis Yu from the National Consumer Law Center, Kate Lang from Justice in Aging, and Chris Jackson and Michael Walters from CERA. Over 500 participants attended. We explained the regulations governing the Treasury Offset Program, basic procedures for seeking discharge of a federally guaranteed student loan through establishing permanent and total disability, and some recent changes in federal policy on collection of student loan debt. Persis and Kate also discussed pending legislation that would eliminate the income tax consequences for student loan debt forgiven as a result of permanent and total disability.
We received excellent feedback from participants. The materials from the webinar can be downloaded and replayed here.