Private Student Loans Disability Discharge – Erica

“Dear Steve,

I became chronically ill about three years ago and my health declined rapidly. I almost ended up in a coma, and by the time I was finally diagnosed, it was discovered I have a metabolic disease that is progressive, incurable and there is no proven treatment. I have been unable to work for the past 2 1/2 years and have been fighting with Social Security to obtain disability. I currently receive a little under $400 monthly for living expenses from social services (with a work exemption due to my health) and food stamps (the max allowed by my state -NY). I am at the mercy of my roommate and best friend for the remainder of living expenses that the $400 doesn’t cover. I am not spending my money on anything other than bills, and it’s been that way since I stopped working.

The problem is that my parents (who are well-off, but who offer zero assistance financially or otherwise) refused to complete FAFSA info for school and I took out private loans (that they cosigned on). Since I’ve been out of school on medical leave on and off, my loans have gone into repayment and accrued interest. I have nearly $95K in debt now since I began college in 2004. Sallie Mae offered to significantly reduce my loan due to my disability, but they required documentation be completed by my parents (cosigner). My parents refused to complete the paperwork, so the account remains open and delinquent. I can’t handle the massive amount of debt hanging over my head any longer. I am 25, have been unable to finish my degree, and spend most of my time in and out of doctors’ offices.

I am called incessantly by loan companies telling me to ask family or friends for money. Whatever amount of money I could give them isn’t enough. I’ve offered, and they’ve declined (granted my offers are small). I am supposed to be on nearly $100 worth of OTC supplements and medications that my insurance doesn’t cover each month and I can’t pay for that either so my condition continues to deteriorate. I was considering asking a debt management program for help, but some of the research I’ve done regarding private student loans says that there is nothing to be done for that kind of debt.

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Do I even *have* any options? Is there a feasible way out of this situation or something I can do to improve it? My intent was not to financially ruin my parents. They blame me for my illness claiming I did something to set it off and become irritated when the student loan companies call them incessantly asking for money. I have tried to ask my school’s financial aid office for help and I have tried posting on other forums, but no one has been helpful at all. I just can’t believe this is my life at the age of 25. I feel that I have absolutely nothing to offer. I’m not a contributing member of society, but a drain, and have been strongly considering suicide as a way out of the massive stress I am constantly under. I would appreciate any assistance you can possible provide.


Dear Erica,

It certainly sounds as if the key to this problem begins and ends with your parents.

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Without their participation you can’t apply for a disability waiver and they refuse to pay or deal with the loan situation.

If they continue to refuse to help despite your best efforts you may simply let your parents know you’ve done everything you can do to resolve this but need their help and then, let go of the stress and worry over this. Then let the lender know they should pursue the cosigner for payment. That might light a fire under your parents motivation and it will certainly reduce your stress level if you see it for what it is.

The reality is this is a financial problem brought about by a debilitating medical condition and a dysfunctional relationship with your parents. Neither of those issues are either under your control or worth killing yourself over.

If you resolve yourself to the fact this situation will not be solved without your parents help then let go of the stress and instead focus your efforts on what you can do to help your roommate and repay the kindness they are giving you. I’d envision fresh cooked meals, a clean apartment and an endless supply of clean laundry as a big thank you.

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The best solution here is a permanent disability waiver granted by the private student loan lender. But to do that you’d need to complete their required documentation.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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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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