Mental Health Related

How Do I Get My Student Loans Forgiven Because of My Mental Health Issues?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

I have severe bipolar depression that always causes me to have mental breaks whether I’m taking medication or not.

I have had to be admitted to the hospital quite a few times throughout my entire life.

It’s something I have had since I was 7 years old.

I also have student loan debt from an attempt to put myself through school as I’ve always wanted to go.

However, my slew of disorders often causes a downward spiral that I cannot pull myself out of even with medication help, which happened when I finally dropped out for the final time in 2015.

I have not been able to hold a job position for more than two years because I can’t (I stop being able to make it, I don’t want to do anything, etc.).

So my question is, do you think I would qualify to be able to have my student loans discharged due to mental health issues, or would being able to work sporadically hinder my chances?

Cat

Answer:

Dear Cat,

First off, let me express my heartfelt feelings of compassion and understanding for your situation. I was writing about a kind young man who lost his life from suicide due to autism.

These underlying issues, be it bipolar disorder, depression, autism, or a whole host of other issues, directly impact our lives in many ways.

One of those ways is financial.

If your loans are private student loans, the lenders don’t care or many allowances for mental health disability. Private student loans are a trap. There are ways to deal with them, just not through a mental health forgiveness solution.

Let’s go on the assumption you have federal student loans. You can verify that by visiting the NSLDS site, and if your loans are listed there, they are federal.

A tax-free elimination of your federal student loans is available to people with mental health disorders. This can include bipolar disorder.

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However, like everything else in life, there are some requirements or rules you have to meet.

The issue of being able to work sporadically is a gray area. The rules are what they are but ultimately it will all come down to what your doctor writes on the forms required.

Here is What Will Get You Across the Finish Line

To apply for federal student loan forgiveness through the disability discharge program your doctor would have to follow these instructions:

Physician Certification:

Alternatively, to show that you are totally and permanently disabled for the purposes of this discharge, you may submit the TPD discharge application with a certification from a physician that shows you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that (1) can be expected to result in death; (2) has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or (3) can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.

“Substantial gainful activity” is a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical and/or mental activities.

Actions to Take:

  • Complete sections 1 through 3 of the TPD discharge application
  • Have a physician who is a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or osteopathy (D.O) licensed to practice in the United States fully complete Section 4 of the application
  • Return the completed application to the address provided below within 90 days of the date that your physician signed the TPD discharge application – Source

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge – Mental Impairment

Here is the section of the discharge application your doctor must fill out.

You could always discuss this with your mental healthcare provider to talk about if they feel you would qualify and they are comfortable signing the form.

A Different Route That Might be Easier

If your mental health condition allowed you to qualify for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) that would make the process potentially easier. In fact, if you go the SSDI route you can skip the documentation I mentioned above. The Department of Education will get an automatic notice about your SSDI approval.

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The Total and Permanent Disability Discharge site says:

Social Security Administration Determination:

If you are receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, you will be considered totally and permanently disabled for the purposes of this discharge if you provide an SSA notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within 5 to 7 years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination.

If your SSA notice of award does not indicate when your next scheduled disability review will occur, you can obtain this information by calling your local SSA office or by calling 800.772.1213 and requesting a Benefits Planning Query. The Benefits Planning Query will show when your next review is scheduled to occur.

Actions to Take:

  • Complete sections 1 through 3 of your TPD discharge application
  • Return the application along with a complete copy of your SSA notice of award (as described earlier) or, if applicable, your Benefits Planning Query to the address below

Sincerly,
Steve

You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.





About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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