Qualifying To Discharge Student Loans Due To Disability[yoast-breadcrumb]
Qualifying To Discharge Student Loans Due To Disability
If you have federal student loans and a total and permanent disability that prevents you from working, you may qualify to have your loans discharged – meaning you won’t have to repay them. Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for a student loan discharge due to disability.
What is Total and Permanent Disability Discharge?
The Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge program allows federal student loan borrowers who have a total and permanent disability to have their loans forgiven. This means you won’t have to repay your federal student loans if you qualify.To be eligible, you must have a mental or physical disability that:
- Prevents you from being able to work and earn money (engage in substantial gainful activity)
- Is expected to continue indefinitely or result in death
If you meet these criteria, you can have your federal student loans discharged. This includes Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, and TEACH Grants.Private student loans are not eligible for disability discharge through this federal program. You’d need to check with your private lender to see if they offer any disability discharge options.
Qualifying for TPD Discharge
There are a few ways you can prove you have a total and permanent disability that makes you eligible for student loan discharge:
1. Certification from a doctor
A doctor of medicine or osteopathy, legally authorized to practice in your state, can certify that you have a disability that prevents you from working and is expected to continue for at least 60 months or result in death.The doctor will need to fill out Section 4 of the TPD Discharge application and explain your condition.
2. Documentation from the Social Security Administration
You can qualify for a TPD discharge if you provide documentation showing you’ve been determined to be disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA).This includes being eligible for:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
You’ll need to provide a Social Security Administration document, like an award letter, showing you’re approved for SSDI or SSI benefits.
3. Documentation from the Department of Veterans Affairs
If you’re a veteran, you can qualify for a TPD discharge by providing documentation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that:
- You have a 100% service-connected disability
- You are totally disabled based on an individual unemployability rating
A VA disability determination letter can prove your eligibility.
How to Apply for TPD Discharge
If you meet one of the above criteria for a total and permanent disability, here are the steps to take to apply for a student loan discharge:
- Get your documentation ready – This includes a doctor’s certification, SSA/SSDI documents, or VA disability determination letter.
- Fill out the TPD Discharge application – You can download the form online or request a paper copy be mailed to you.
- Submit the application and supporting documents – You can submit them by:
It takes around 90 days for the Department of Education to review your TPD discharge application and documentation. You’ll be notified by mail if your application is approved or denied.
After Getting TPD Discharge
If approved, your federal loans will be discharged and you won’t have to repay them. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Discharged loan amounts before 2026 are not considered taxable income for federal tax purposes. Check with your state for any state tax obligations.
- You can’t receive any new federal student loans after getting a disability discharge. Exceptions may be made if your condition improves.
- You may be subject to a post-discharge monitoring period where your income is reviewed annually to ensure you still qualify.
- Your loans can potentially be reinstated if you start earning above the substantial gainful activity limit or if you return to school.
- Check with loan servicers about any implications for cosigned private loans. Cosigners may still be responsible for repayment.
Alternatives if You’re Denied
If your TPD discharge application gets denied, here are some options:
- Reapply – Gather new supporting documentation and reapply. Fix any errors.
- Appeal the decision – You can request a reevaluation within 12 months of being denied.
- Apply for an income-driven repayment plan – Lower your monthly payments based on your income.
- Consolidate loans – Combine multiple federal loans into one new loan with a fixed interest rate.
- Deferment or forbearance – Temporarily postpone payments if you’re having trouble making ends meet.
- Disability loan forgiveness – Some government and nonprofit jobs offer this if you become disabled while employed.
- Student loan bankruptcy discharge – Only possible in rare cases of undue hardship.
- Settle student loan debt – Work with lenders/collectors to pay a lump sum lower than what you owe.
Get Help With Your Student Loans
Trying to manage student loans while dealing with a disability can be overwhelming. Here are some resources that can help:
- Federal Student Aid Ombudsman – Assists with disputes related to federal student aid programs.
- National Disability Rights Network – Provides legal support for people with disabilities.
- American Association of People with Disabilities – Advocates for educational rights of students with disabilities.
- Association on Higher Education and Disability – Offers information and resources for students with disabilities in higher education.
- Financial aid office at your college – Can help former students with disability discharge for federal loans they received while enrolled.
Dealing with student loans while disabled can be difficult, but getting your federal loans discharged through the Total and Permanent Disability program can provide financial relief. This guide covers the steps to qualify and apply for a TPD discharge, as well as options if your application gets denied. Reach out for help if you need support pursuing student loan forgiveness due to disability.