i am at odds with the department of education regarding a student loan. after repaying $17,000.00 (the original loan was $10,000.00) i stopped working in 2003 and took a disability. and i called them about the thousand or so they claimed i still owed. i was informed that, because i had this brain disease, the remaining amount would be 'forgiven.' they sent me lots of forms...my neuro signed some, my employer signed some and i signed some. somehow, a form from my employer was not filled out correctly. somehow, i was not 'approved.' somehow, i missed that information.
fast forward to this past year...my father died, i fractured my pelvis, i broke my hip and i was hospitalized with heart issues. and a collection agency for the department of education sent me a letter (and called so frequently, i stopped answering) saying, with interest, the amount due was now somewhere in the ballpark of 6 grand. huh?
so i contacted the department of education. again. i filled out new forms (they recently revamped their system) and i had my neurologist in new hampshire fill out a form, too. i received a letter saying my monthly social security disability check could be garnished after april 20, 2013...i called on march 14th. the lady was nice. she gave me addresses to send the forms to. she told me how to apply for a financial hardship status, so that my social security wouldn't be affected. but, i explained, i am receiving disability. i haven't worked since 2003. legally, isn't this loan is supposed to be discharged? again, huh??
today, the department of education withheld almost $200.00 from my april social security payment. i called them. i no longer talk clearly when i am stressed...i slur. but i tried to have a conversation with some clerk who talked to me in such a condescending manner that i finally demanded to speak to her manager. the manager told me i should have asked to stop the garnishment when i called in march. i told her i did. well, we show that you called on march 14th but the clerk you spoke to did not initiate the procedure to clear your social security payment from garnishment. hmnnn. how do i get my $$$ back???? i'm sorry but you can't. huh??????
the paperwork is in process to discharge the loan...well, actually, i repaid the original loan. but that new amount needs to be discharged. my social security may or may not eventually be returned. and my social security may be garnished again next month, too. michelle, the manager, didn't really have any answers. i am in vermont and things will have to wait until i am back in texas, where i have a folder of notes concerning this student loan and that elusive discharge.
but i have been thinking long and hard about debt today. and about wealth. i listen (and grumble) about welfare fraud. about unemployed people buying cigarettes and alcohol and young women having babies as a career choice and food stamp abuse and all the illegal aliens getting benefits from the government. but i ignore the huge amounts lost to political scandal and corporate greed. trust me, it makes the welfare fraud pale in comparison to the white collar corruption occuring as i write this.
i don't own property, unless you count the double gravesite my family owns. my vehicle is a tired, old pick-up with a faded body and no air conditioning. and i live in el paso, where it gets really hot. by some standards, that i do not own a nice car or a big house means that i have somehow failed. to that snooty clerk at the department of education today, i was a deadbeat, a defaulter of student loans. but we all die. cars, houses, bank accounts and all that glitters does not define us, either here or in the afterlife. :)))