AFT Resolution

END THE GARNISHMENT OF SOCIAL SECURITY TO PAY STUDENT LOAN DEBT

WHEREAS, over the past several decades, employers nationwide have been eliminating defined-benefit pension plans resulting in 18 percent of private sector employees having a defined-benefit pension in 2015 compared with 35 percent in 1990 and 28 percent of overall employees in 2015 having a defined-benefit pension compared with 74 percent in 1975;[1] and

WHEREAS, the median savings of households (ages 55-65) is just $12,000;[2] and

WHEREAS, without a pension plan or accumulated savings, American workers are increasingly retiring to precarious circumstances, relying upon Social Security to stave off poverty; and  

WHEREAS, Social Security Benefits were first taxed in 1984, and the age for full retirement benefits was raised from 65 to the current 66 as a result of legislation passed by Congress in 1983 and will eventually be raised to 67;[3] and

WHEREAS, prior to retirement, many seniors had assumed debt in the form of student loans in order to pay for their own education or that of a child or grandchild; and

WHEREAS, senior citizen student debt increased from $2.8 billion in 2005 to $18.2 billion in 2013;[4] and

WHEREAS, student loans are almost impossible to be forgiven even in bankruptcy, and interest rates cannot be easily reduced; and

WHEREAS, in 2013, the federal government garnished $150 million from the monthly benefits of 36,000 seniors 65 and older, further cutting a hole in what is supposed to be their safety net;[5] and

WHEREAS, this number is expected to grow as more baby boomers retire:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers join the Alliance for Retired Americans in calling on the federal government to end the practice of garnishing Social Security to pay student loan debt.


[1] Wiatrowski, William. “The last private industry pension plans: a visual essay,” Washington DC, 2012: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web. Perez, Thomas and Borzi, Phyllis. “Private Pension Plan Bulletin Historical Tables and Graphs 1975-2013,” Washington DC, 2015: U.S. Department of Labor. Web. “Table 2. Retirement benefits: Access, participation, and take-up rates, private industry workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2015,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/benefits/2015/ownership/private/table02a.pdf; Accessed: June 6, 2016. “Table 2. Retirement benefits: Access, participation, and take-up rates, civilian workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2015,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/ benefits/2015/ownership/civilian/table02a.pdf; Accessed: June 6, 2016.

[2] Rhee, Nari. “The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?” Washington DC, 2013: National Institute on Retirement Security. Web.

[3] Altman, Nancy and Kingson, Eric. “Social Security Works: Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All,” New York: New York Press, 2015. Print.

[4] “Older Americans: Inability to Repay Student Loans May Affect Financial Security of a Small Percentage of Retirees,” U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO-14-866T, Sept. 10, 2014. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-866T.

[5] “Older Americans Inability to Repay Student Loans May Affect Financial Security of a Small Percentage of Retirees,” (Publication No. GAO-14-866T), Government Accountability Office. (2014). Washington, DC: Web. 

 

(2016)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.