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Student loan debt, unlike other debt, is not easy to hide from. Filing for bankruptcy does not make it go away, and ignoring it definitely does not work either. Elderly citizens are learning this lesson the hard way.

There is over $1 trillion in student loan debt in the US today and it is estimated that 85% of that debt is owed to the Federal government. People that currently receive or will soon be eligible for social security benefits may be surprised to see their benefits reduced in order to pay off past due student loans.

The threat of Social Security cuts adds to the overall financial hardships of our aging population. Almost 45% of people aged 48 to 64 won’t save enough money to cover basic needs and uninsured health care costs for their retirement years.

If you are behind on your payments you will receive two attempts to set up a payment plan or otherwise resolve the debt before money starts being taken from your Social Security check. It’s also said that they won’t withhold money from monthly checks that total $750 or less.

Experts say that changes in payment plans are partly to blame for why the baby boomer generation is still dealing with college loans. The repayment period on federal student loans can be extended to 30 years if you owe $60,000 or more. Another eight years can be added on if you face unemployment or another economic hardship; during that time, payments aren’t required while interest still accrues.

Compared to present-day retirees, more recent college graduates are in deeper debt, which means instances of Social Security garnishment will be more common when they enter their retirement age. Of the most recent group of graduates, 66% left college with student loans averaging $28,720.