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I’m Disabled, Filed Bankruptcy, But Still Owe on Student Loans

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

I was hit by a drunk driver, suffering several acute compression fractures in my neck and back, ribs, discs, etc…and was wheel chair bound. Fortunately, I recovered well, and am more functional than any of treating physicians expected.

I was attending the University of Davis, California at the time ( 1991 ) when accident happened. When I was well enough, I signed up for classes as usual, since I was a fourth year student. After a few weeks, i received a call to come to the Deans office, where I was told that because of my injuries, i was too much of a liability to be on campus.

This crushed me, financially – because now my student loans became due. Also, as you can imagine, personally – I worked very hard to get my life back to as normal as possible, only to have them kick me to the proverbial curb.

This was prior to many of the equal rights that now protect disabled students. In fact, one of the then serving Assemblymen, requested all of the case facts / documents to help push the legal side of protecting students in my exact position.

I am still trying to pay off those same school loans. I have spoken to Student Loan Corp about my disability, but because I am only 86% permanently disabled, and not 100%, they say there is nothing they can do. I claimed chapter 7, but as you mention in your blog, that did not resolve the student loan issue. Now my loan is with Sallie Mae, and nothing has changed.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

I only recently came across your blog, but have learned a ton already. Wanted to thank you for you time and energy devoted to helping all of us out here.

My question — Do i still owe a school loan, if the school removed me for becoming partially disabled, when a drunk driver hit me in auto accident?

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Appreciate your input.


Dear Tony,

There isn’t any real way for me to even begin to offer an intelligent comment about what happened back in 1991 with the school. So I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on that.

But congratulations for surviving a difficult situation and doing better.

But as far as the student loans go it does not sound like your bankruptcy attorney pursued an adversary proceeding to eliminate or discharge your student loans. I have no idea how long ago you filed bankruptcy. But what I would urge you to do is find a local bankruptcy attorney in your area that has experience in dealing with student loans and bankruptcy.

There have been a number of previous cases that demonstrate based on disability; a reduction or elimination of the loans is possible. Please review this article for more details.

Depending on when you filed bankruptcy it might still be possible for a licensed bankruptcy attorney in your state to file an adversary proceeding and properly deal with these loans.

I would bet with the right attorney on your side here with experience in this area you have a reasonable chance of getting a significant portion of the loans discharged, if not all of them.

Your story falls right into line with others you have pursued a discharge of their student loan debt based on a medical issue. See this article for more details. The bottom line is many could get a discharge of their student loans in bankruptcy but simply don’t try or don’t go about it the right way.

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


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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