(CNN) For more than a year, Jamie Chastain had $177 withheld from his Social Security check each month because of an unpaid student loan from three decades ago.
The 68-year-old has been struggling to pay off his debt since 1982 when he borrowed about $12,500 to get a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Southern Florida. It took him nearly a decade to find a steady job, and he defaulted on his loans before finding work at a community college as a media technician and humanities instructor.
The government garnished his wages by about $400 a month throughout most of his career to collect the debt.
Chastain estimates he’s paid back three times what he originally borrowed. But because of the interest, the loans still weren’t paid off when he retired in 2014. So the government began garnishing his Social Security checks.