350,000 student-loan borrowers with disabilities have gotten $7 billion in debt wiped out under Biden. Here's how to qualify.

350,000 student-loan borrowers with disabilities have gotten $7 billion in debt wiped out under Biden. Here's how to qualify.
  • 350,000 student-loan borrowers with disabilities have gotten $7 billion in relief under Biden.

  • This is partly because the Education Department waived burdensome paperwork.

  • Here's how to find out if you qualify, and what to do next to receive loan forgiveness.

President Joe Biden has taken steps to reform the student-loan forgiveness process for borrowers with disabilities, and so far, thousands have reaped the benefits.

There's a system in place for borrowers with disabilities to receive student-loan forgiveness, known as the total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge — but actually getting that forgiveness has proven to be difficult. Established under former President Barack Obama, anyone determined permanently disabled by a physician, the Social Security Administration, or the Department of Veteran Affairs was eligible for loan forgiveness, but a requirement to submit documentation during a three-year monitoring period, to verify that incomes did not exceed the poverty line, was burdensome.

That's why Biden's Education Secretary Miguel Cardona waived the requirement to submit documentation, which in the past has resulted in loans being reinstated if borrowers did not respond, and those changes have resulted in $7 billion in relief for 350,000 borrowers to date.

"Working together with @SocialSecurity, Federal Student Aid has provided much-needed relief for 350,000 borrowers with approximately $7 billion in student loans," Federal Student Aid head Richard Cordray wrote on Twitter.

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As Cordray noted, Student Aid has worked with Social Security to use data matching in identifying borrowers who should qualify for relief, and the agency will continue to go through that process to deliver TPD discharges for about 15,000 to 20,000 borrowers each quarter.

In the meantime, here's how to know if you qualify for a TPD discharge:

How to prove your eligibility

If you need to prove you are eligible for a TPD discharge, you must have one of these three documents of proof, according to Federal Student Aid:

  1. VA documentation: Veterans can qualify if they have proof from the VA that states you have a service-connected disability that is 100% disabling, or you are totally disabled based on an unemployability rating.

  2. SSA documentation: Those eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income can qualify for TPD discharge if they provide a copy of SSA benefits.

  3. Physician's certification: A physician can also confirm TPD eligibility if they can certify you are unable to engage in "any substantial gainful activity" due to a physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, has lasted continuously for at least 60 months, or can be expected to last continuously for 60 months.

Once you have one of the required documentations, here's what's next:

How to apply for TPD discharge

To apply for loan forgiveness, you must complete the TPD application and submit it to Nelnet — the company that manages TPD discharges — along with your supporting documentation. There are three ways to apply:

  1. Submit the application online at this link

  2. Download and print a blank TPD discharge application to mail in at this link

  3. Or request an application by phone (888-303-7818) or email (DisabilityInformation@Nelnet.net)

What's next

After you submit your application, a number of things could happen. If your discharge has been approved, you will be notified of your discharge and your loan servicer will be instructed to return any loan payments made after your documentation was submitted.

If your discharge request is denied, Nelnet is required to notify you of the reason for your denial. If you want Nelnet to reevaluate your application, you can submit new information within the first 12 months of your denial that support your eligibility, and if more than 12 months pass, you can submit a new application.

Borrowers should also note that if they were granted a TPD discharge after January 1, 2018, they will not have to pay taxes on the discharged loan amount.

Read the original article on Business Insider