When you enrolled in college, you didn’t expect to become disabled and unable to work. Since you can’t earn enough income to pay back your loans, you may be wondering if you’re eligible for student loan discharge. To help you figure out if you qualify for TPD discharge, here’s an overview of what disabilities qualify for student loan forgiveness.
What Is TPD Discharge?
If you’re permanently disabled and can’t work, you may qualify for federal student loan forgiveness through the Total and Permanent Disability discharge program. Some private lenders also offer similar programs to disabled borrowers, but keep in mind that the eligibility requirements may vary.
In order to qualify for the federal forgiveness program, you’ll have to prove that your physical or mental impairments are severe enough to prevent you from working and repaying your student loans. You can do this in one of three ways, which we’ll discuss later.
What Disabilities Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness?
The Social Security Administration maintains a list of impairments that it considers significantly disabling. If you have one or more of these conditions, you may be eligible for government assistance such as SSI or student loan forgiveness. Here are a few examples of medical conditions that may qualify you for TPD discharge:
- Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia
- Autoimmune diseases and disabling chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia
- Loss of limbs or paralysis
- Conditions like degenerative disc disease that cause severe chronic pain
- Stage IV or terminal cancer
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list of potentially eligible conditions. If you have a permanent disability or combination of chronic impairments that are severe enough to prevent you from earning a living, it’s likely worth applying for TPD.
How to Prove Your Disability
You can prove your disability status in one of three ways:
- The VA declares you unable to work due to a service-related disability.
- The Social Security Administration determines that you’re unable to maintain employment and grants you SSI or SSDI benefits.
- A medical doctor diagnoses you with a permanent disability that renders you unable to work. Your condition must be terminal or permanent, which means it has lasted for a continuous period of 5 years, or is expected to continue for the next 5 years.
If you are declared unable to work by the VA or SSA, you may receive an automatic discharge, which means you won’t have to submit paperwork to get your loans forgiven. People who are diagnosed by doctors usually need to submit a TPD application, which you can do on Nelnet’s website (the government’s TPD servicer).
After you get approved, you may have to undergo a three-year monitoring period to make sure you aren’t earning too much income to be eligible. Each year, you’ll have to submit your income information. If your earnings are too high, you could lose your discharge and have your loans reinstated. However, this requirement was temporarily waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Living with a permanent disability is hard enough without having to figure out how you’ll repay your student loan debt. Hopefully this article has helped you understand what resources may be available to you to help reduce your debt burden.
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