Options for Disabled Student Loan Borrowers

The U.S. Department of Education recently enforced new regulations making it easier to discharge student loans for those who have a disability. The process of applying for student loan debt forgiveness on the grounds of disability has been streamlined. Under the new rules, the Department of Education will use one standard form and one set of rules in order to determine if a borrower meets the requirements to receive a full or partial debt discharge.

Right now, each loan program has its own forms and rules. In addition, Social Security disability benefits can be used as proof of a permanent disability. Prior to the updates, Social Security disability awards were not considered when making a student loan disability determination.

According to the Department of Education, if you are totally and permanently disabled, you can demonstrate that in one of three ways:

  1. If the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-related disability, you can submit supporting documentation to the Department of Education.
  2. If you are a Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits recipient, you can submit your notice of award from the Social Security Administration for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within five to seven years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination.
  3. You can submit a physician’s certification that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment that can be determined medically and that will likely result in death, has lasted continuously for no less than 60 months or is expected to last continuously for not less than 60 months.

For more information on discharging student loans due to disability, visit the Federal Student Aid website.