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Discharging Federal Student Loans Due To Disability
Money & Debt Topics
This content was last updated on 1/3/2023
This information only applies to you if you have a:
- William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loan
- Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loan
- Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program loan
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program service obligation
- If I don’t know what kind of student loan I have, how can I find out?
You can use the National Student Loan Data System to find out what federal loans you have.
The NSLDS site is found on the Department of Education’s StudentAid.gov site.
You must have a Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) to access your loan information. If you do not already have an FSA ID, you can create one by clicking on the “Create Account” button on the StudentAid.gov site.
- I took out one of the student loans listed above. I have a disability. Can I get a discharge of my student loan?
You might qualify for a TPD discharge: a total and permanent disability discharge.
- What is TPD discharge?
A TPD discharge stands for total and permanent dissability discharge. A TPD relieves you from having to repay or comply with things you promised to do when you got your student loan(s). A TPD discharge request can only be made for these types of loans:
- Loans made under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program
- Loans made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program
- Loans made under the Federal Perkins Loan (Perkins Loan) Program
- A TEACH Grant, which requires you to complete a service obligation
- How do I apply for a TPD discharge?
You needto let Nelnet, the U.S. Department of Education’s contractor, know that you want to apply. You can do this by phone or email. You can call seven days a week at 888-303-7818 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET).
You can also let Nelnet know you are applying by using the online disability discharge application.
- You can download the Discharge Application form or you can also apply online at https://secure.disabilitydischarge.com/registration.
- You need to fill out sections 1 and 3. Your doctor fills out section 4.
- You must sign and date at the bottom of section 3. The doctor signs at the bottom of page 2, prints their name, and puts their medical license number.
The most important part of the application is the doctor’s statement. It must fully explain both your condition AND why it leaves you unable to work.
- Can I appoint a representative to help me apply for the TPD discharge application?
Yes. You can designate a representative to apply on your behalf. You and your representative must fill out the Applicant Representative Designation form and then submit it to the U.S. Department of Education. The address where you send it is on the form.
- What happens after I apply?
After you submit your TPD discharge application, Nelnet will:
- Contact the holders of your federal student loans and/or TEACH Grant service obligation and tell them to suspend collection activity on your loans until a decision is made on your TPD application. This means that you will not be required to make payments on your loans while we evaluate your discharge application.
- Check your application and the documents you sent to make sure the application is complete and that it includes information that shows you qualify for a TPD discharge.
- Once Nelnet has the documentation it needs and thinks you meet the qualifications for a TPD discharge, your application will be sent to the Department of Education for a final decision.
- If my student loan is in default and my wages are being garnished or my tax refunds are being taken, will that stop after I apply for a TPD discharge?
No. If any of your loans are in default and payments are being collected by wage garnishment and/or Treasury Offset, the garnishment or offset may continue. If your request for TPD discharge is approved, the wage garnishments and/or Treasury Offset Payments will be discontinued.
- I haven’t applied for a TPD discharge, but I received a letter saying that I may be eligible. Why did I receive this?
The U.S. Department of Education has agreements with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that allows it to determine whether you may qualify for a TPD discharge. If the Department of Education thinks that you may qualify, you will be contacted and told what you need to do to request a discharge.
- What happens if my TPD discharge application is denied?
- You will be notified of the denial by mail.
- The letter will include the reason for the denial and instructions on what you can do if you have questions about the basis of the decision or believe there is other information that we should consider.
- The loan holders will begin contacting you again, and you will have to start making payments on your loans again.
- Can I appeal the denial of my TPD discharge?
If you have questions about why your TPD discharge application was denied or think there is other information that should be considered, you should contact Nelnet.
Monday–Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time (ET)
Saturday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET
If you get additional information that supports your eligibility for a discharge within one year of the date of the denial letter and submit it, your existing TPD discharge application will be reconsidered. If you do not submit the additional information within one year of the date of the denial letter, you will have to submit a new TPD discharge application.