What Disabilities Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?

If you have suffered an injury or medical condition that prevents you from working for an indefinite period, you may be eligible to cancel any student loans you have.

Under new U.S. Department of Education (ED) guidelines, those who have borrowed federal loans may be eligible to have their Title IV federal loans forgiven.

The Education Department announced that it would no longer make those classified as totally and permanently disabled (TPD) by the Social Security Administration (SSA) apply for their federal student loans to be discharged. Instead, borrowers with TPDs will be able to receive automatic forgiveness thanks to a new rule allowing student loan servicers to match customer data with the SSA.

How to Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness for Disability

The Education Department has agreements with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that allow them to proactively determine whether you may qualify for a TPD discharge. If they determine that you may qualify, they will contact you to let you know what you need to do to request a discharge.

Please note that if you have not heard from the Education Department, you can apply for forgiveness by phone or email:

Phone: 888.303.7818

Office Hours: Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM (ET)

Email: DisabilityInformation@Nelnet.net

In most cases, to qualify for a TPD discharge, you must complete and submit a TPD discharge application, along with documentation showing that you meet the requirements for being considered totally and permanently disabled, to Nelnet, the servicer that assists ED with the TPD discharge process.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Veterans

This applies if you are a veteran as well. If you believe you meet the eligibility requirements for TPD discharge based on a disability determination from the VA, but ED did not contact you about a TPD discharge, you can submit a TPD discharge application along with documentation from the VA showing that you have a service-connected disability (or disabilities) that is 100% disabling, or that you are totally disabled based on an individual unemployability rating.

Unfortunately, this new guideline does not extend loan forgiveness to non-disabled military spouses. However, among other options, military spouses with federal loans can utilize the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which requires that borrowers make 120 payments while working for a qualifying employer to have their loan balance forgiven.

Should you consider trying to further your education while disabled, please be aware that Social Security Disability does not pay for college. However, those receiving disability benefits can seek Vocational Rehabilitation benefits, which can help pay for college and other types of training. There are also various disability-related scholarships and awards that can supplement students’ expenses.

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