Total and Permanent Disability Discharge (TPD)
The federal student aid programs provide for discharge of certain types of federal student loans and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program service obligations if an otherwise eligible individual is determined to be totally and permanently disabled.
You may be eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge if you:
- Have become unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, has lasted for a continuous period of at least 60 months, or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 60 months, or
- Have been determined by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable due to a service-connected condition, or
- Have received a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) stating that your next scheduled disability review will be five to seven years or more from the date of your last SSA disability determination, and you provide a copy of that SSA notice of award.
Borrowers must contact Nelnet, the US Department of Education’s TPD servicer, to advise them of their intent to request a total and permanent disability discharge, obtain applications to apply for the discharge, and obtain other important information related to the discharge process. You may contact Nelnet online at www.disabilitydischarge.com, by phone at (888) 303-7818, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you contact Nelnet to advise them of your intent to request a total and permanent disability discharge, Nelnet will notify your loan holders to grant a forbearance on your loans for 120 days. This forbearance allows you to temporarily suspend making payments on your loans while you complete the discharge application and collect the supporting documentation and certifications that you must provide to Nelnet.
When Nelnet receives your total and permanent disability application and applicable documentation, Nelnet will notify your loan holders to extend or grant a forbearance on your loans for an indefinite length of time while Nelnet reviews the disability information and determines whether you’re eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge. Collection activity will resume if Nelnet determines that you’re not eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge.
Post-Discharge Monitoring Period
If Nelnet determines that you are eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge, the agency will notify you that your loan or grant service obligation is discharged; the loan or grant service obligation is then placed in a post-discharge monitoring period for a three-year period that begins on the date the discharge was granted. The obligation for you to repay your loan or complete your TEACH Grant service will be reinstated if, at any time during this three-year period, you:
- Receive annual earnings from employment that exceed the poverty guideline amount for a family of two in your state
- Receive a new loan under the Direct Loan Program or the Perkins Loan Program, or a new TEACH Grant
- Receive a disbursement of a Direct Loan Program or Perkins Loan Program loan or a TEACH Grant that was initially disbursed prior to your discharge date and you fail to ensure that the disbursement is returned to the loan holder or (for a TEACH Grant) to the US Department of Education within 120 days of the disbursement date, or
- Receive a notice from the SSA indicating that you’re no longer disabled or that your continuing disability review will no longer be the five- to seven-year period indicated in the SSA notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits.
During the three-year post-discharge monitoring period, you or your representative must:
- Promptly notify Nelnet of any changes in your address or telephone number
- Promptly notify Nelnet if your annual earnings from employment exceed the poverty guideline amount for a family of two in your state
- Upon request, provide Nelnet with documentation of your annual earnings from employment, and
- Promptly notify Nelnet if you receive a notice from the SSA indicating that you are no longer disabled or that your continuing disability review will no longer be the five- to seven-year period.
The post-discharge monitoring period does not apply if you’re a veteran and the US Department of Veterans Affairs determines that you’re unemployable due to a service-connected condition, and therefore permanently and totally disabled for the purposes of discharging your loans and TEACH Grant service obligation.