How To Get Your Student Loan Forgiven if You Have a Disability

A Mature man of African American ethnicity with physical disabilities is sitting in wheelchair, worried in the home office.
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The Biden administration recently announced that it has cancelled $7 billion in federal student loan debt for about 350,000 borrowers with disabilities through a data-sharing initiative between the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Education. If you plan to apply for forgiveness under the plan, you’ll need to follow certain steps to see if you qualify.

See: Biden Cancels $7 Billion in Federal Student Loans for Disabled Students Through Data-Sharing Program
Find: School Loans — Here’s Why You Should Skip the Payment Moratorium

The first thing you need to know is that there are three ways to qualify for a total and permanent disability discharge, Forbes reported. These involve veterans, those who meet Social Security disability criteria and those with a doctor’s certification. Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Veterans: You might qualify for forgiveness if you have a service-connected disability that is 100% disabling or an individual unemployability rating qualifies you as disabled.
  2. Social Security Disability: You might qualify if you receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
  3. Doctor’s certification:  You might qualify if you have certification from a medical doctor that you’re unable to take part in any “substantial gainful activity” because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.
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To apply for student loan forgiveness, you’ll need to submit a Total and Permanent Disability Discharge application on the Federal Student Aid website and provide supporting documentation of your total and permanent disability, Forbes reported. The exceptions are if the Education Department contacts you directly based on information received from the SSA or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In this case, you don’t have to provide supporting documents.

The moratorium on federal student loan payments was recently extended until Sept. 1. Once payments resume, you won’t have to pay federal student loans while your application for student loan forgiveness is reviewed.

If you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness due to your disability, you might still qualify for forgiveness in other ways.

For example, on Tuesday, the Education Department announced changes that will result in immediate debt cancellation for at least 40,000 federal student loan borrowers and move an additional 3.6 million borrowers closer to some form of loan forgiveness. This forgiveness plan mainly involves borrowers who qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Income-Driven Repayment plans.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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