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Student loan debt but now disabled, what are my options?

How do I discharge my Student loan if I am disabled?


If you have become disabled due to a severe condition that does not allow you to work and you have high student loan debts you may be able to request a student loan discharge and eliminate your debt obligations. The first step to reduce or eliminate your debts begins with a call to the Student Loan Aid Office, which is part of the United States Department of Education. The next step is to ask for a student loan discharge form for Total and Permanent Disability. You will need to have the forms signed by you and your doctor so it is important that you are receiving medical treatment for your condition.


What are the requirements for a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge?


According to the Department of Education to get a TPD discharge of your federal student loan you must prove the following:

  1. You have a severe medical condition which does not allow you to perform substantial gainful activity.

  2. Your condition must be a medically determinable physical or mental health condition, which means you must have medical evidence to support your diagnosis and prognosis.

  3. The condition must be expected to last at least 60 months or has lasted for 60 months.

  4. It may be expected to result in death

  5. Or the Secretary of Veterans Affairs has determined you are not employable due to your service-related condition.


What do I need to complete for the student loan discharge?


As mentioned above, you need to request the discharge form from the Department of Education. You need to have your doctor sign your application and state your condition with a detailed explanation of your symptoms and limitations. Signed forms must be given to the U.S. Department of Education within 90 days from the date the form is signed by the doctor. If you are also getting SSI or SSDI benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) the Department of Education may request more information from the SSA.

After the Department of Education receives your letter it could take up to 3 months for them to process your request and send you a notification letter stating whether you have been approved or denied.

Steps to help the process:



  1. Keep copies of everything.

  2. Review all time limits and expectations for submitting forms to avoid a delay or denial.

  3. If your case is denied you may need to simply get better information and medical proof about your condition and resubmit your request a second time.


Issues to consider prior to a Federal Student Debt Discharge


Prior to requesting a federal student debt discharge you should understand the tax implications. For instance, there is no tax break for student loan debt that has been cancelled due to disability, despite the fact that borrowers who qualify for cancellation are considered totally and permanently disabled. Be sure to review information from the Department of the Treasury information about a Death and Disability Discharge (Section 437(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965) which states the discharge debts remain taxable.
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