How to Get Student Loans Discharged Due to Permanent Disability

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When you become permanently disabled, paying back your student loans can become a large burden. However, the United States Department of Education allows for a total discharge of student loans for the permanently disabled. Discharging private student loans and any government-backed loan requires completing discharge paperwork provided by the Department of Education. Once your student loans are discharged and forgiven, you no longer qualify for federal student aid without showing major medical improvement.

  • Request the discharge application for total and permanent disability. Either call the Department of Education or visit its website, where you can download a copy.

  • Complete the first section of the application. The identification section requests your Social Security number, name, address, telephone number and email address.

  • Read through the second section of the application for discharge. The second section provides specific instruction for your discharge application, including extra steps required for recipients of certain grants.

  • Take the application to your primary physician and request that he fill out Section 4. Once your doctor has filled out Section 4 completely, pick up the application from his office.

  • Read through Sections 5 through 8 before signing the application in Section 2. Sections 5 through 8 explain the discharge process, provide the definitions of terms used throughout the application and outline your eligibility for future loans and grants. When you sign Section 2 you acknowledge that you have read the entire application.

  • Submit a copy of the application to each of your loan holders. While photocopies of the original application are acceptable, you must sign each application by hand. The loan holders review your application and suspend all payments while the Department of Education's Total and Permanent Disability department reviews your application.

  • Follow up with any additional paperwork requested. The Department of Education may request additional proof of your disability during the application process.

  • Submit to three years of monitoring once your discharge is granted. This post-discharge monitoring determines whether your discharge is made permanent. If you receive any new Title IV loans or TEACH grants during the three years or have earnings that exceed the federal poverty limit for a family of two in your state, your loans will be reinstated.

Tips & Warnings

  • Disability pay and retirement pay do not count as employment earnings during the monitoring period. You may be required to provide proof that the earnings where not from employment.
  • Social Security disability does not immediately qualify you for a discharge of your student loans.

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