Thursday, December 08, 2005

Follow up: Scotus (J. O'Connor) rules against social security recipient who fought benefits offset for student loan that had defaulted many years ago, Government may offset social security benefits to collect the student loans, overruling Lee v. Paige, 376 F.3d 1179 (CA8 2004) LOCKHART v. UNITED STATES No. 04—881 76 F.3d 1027 (9th Circuit) affirmed. The Government may forever collect old defaulted student loan debts from social security recipients, a unanimous United States Supreme Court rules (J. Scalia concurring). While generally Social Security recipients' benefits are exempt from collection, 1996 amendments to expressly authorized the Federal government to offset social security payments. In 1991 the government had eliminated the 10 year collection period for student loans. Because Congress expressly authorized Soc Sec offsets and it had eliminated the collection limitations period, it could offset. Justice Scalia, concurring was bothered by language sometimes in the US Code that appears to prevent future amendment of laws, in this case by the Social Security Act's requirement that amendments to the anti-offset rules expressly reference that provision. Legislation is not perfect and inserting "specific reference" provisions into bills, especially when the Supreme Court will not be inclined to enforce them.
"it is regrettably not uncommon for Congress to attempt to burden the future exercise of legislative power with express-reference and express-statement requirements. See, e.g., 1 U.S.C. § 109; 5 U.S.C. § 559; 25 U.S.C. § 1735(b); 42 U.S.C. §2000bb—3(b); 50 U.S.C. §1547(a)(1), 1621(b).. I think it does no favor to the Members of Congress, and to those who assist in drafting their legislation, to keep secret the fact that such express-reference provisions are ineffective. "


ptg said...

Haven't seen the opinion, and don't really care very much, but I wonder if the offset can be applied to SS bennies other than retirement? e.g. survivor's benefits, SSI

Dale Gribble said...

I dont have a lawyers ticket, but my guess is the law applies to all ssa benefits, with the exception of kids, dependents, medicare etc. Student loans were a scam for many fly by night "schools" that opened merely to cash a loan check and not educate anybody, and now the govt gets to collect its poud of flesh from retireee and disabled persons forever?

ptg said...

They say you can't get Uncle Sam off your back if you have your hand in his pocket. But that is nonsense; you can't ever get the state off your back. I guess the old and lame should be glad they get benefits worth stealing.