Total and Permanent Disability Loan Cancellation

Jessica Martinsen

Are you totally and permanently disabled?

If your answer is yes, you may qualify to have your federal student loans cancelled!

You can show proof that you qualify for total and permanent disability (TPD) three ways:

Documentation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Documentation from the Social Security Administration (SSA)

Documentation from a physician

Documentation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

If you’re a veteran, you can qualify for a TPD discharge by providing documentation from the VA that shows determination due to a:

-service-connected disability that is 100 percent disabling; or 

-total disability based on an individual unemployability rating.

Documentation from the Social Security Administration (SSA)

You can qualify for a TPD discharge if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income by:

-providing a copy of your SSA notice of award or Benefits Planning Query showing that your next scheduled disability review will be 5-7 years or more from the date of your last SSA disability determination.

Documentation From a Physician

A doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy/osteopathic medicine (D.O.) who is licensed to practice in the United States can certify if you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment. Substantial gainful activity means you are unable to work due to a 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.

Apply for Discharge (Cancellation)

You’ll need to complete a TPD discharge application and send it, along with any required documentation of your eligibility for discharge, to Nelnet, the TPD discharge servicer. You can start your online application here: https://secure.disabilitydischarge.com/registration

After Nelnet receives your application, they will explain the process for the review of your application. While your application is being reviewed, you won’t be required to make any payments on your loans. You can contact Nelnet about your application here: disabilityinformation@nelnet.net or by phone at 1-888-303-7818 Monday–Friday from 7 a.m.–2 a.m. Eastern time (ET), and Saturday from 8 a.m.–7 p.m. ET. You can also visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information about TPD discharge here: https://disabilitydischarge.com/ 

Note: If you receive TPD discharge between Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2025, the discharged loan amount won’t be considered income for federal tax purposes. However, you will need to check with your state as loan amounts discharged due to TPD, may still be considered income for state tax purposes. You may want to consult with your state tax office or a tax professional before you file your state tax return.

What if you don’t qualify for TPD Cancellation?

If you don’t qualify for TPD discharge or you are denied and still need relief of your student loans, you may still be able to get relief from your student loans through federal forgiveness programs and/or income-driven repayment plans. 

Forgiveness Programs

The two main federal student loan forgiveness programs we can help with are the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is a student loan forgiveness program for full-time public service employees that have federal direct loans. You must be enrolled in an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan and make 120 qualifying payments. If these requirements are met, your remaining student loan balance will be completely forgiven.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) program is for full-time teachers who have completed five consecutive academic years at a Title 1 school. If you are a highly-qualified mathematics or science teacher at the secondary level, or a special education teacher at any K-12 level, you qualify for $17,500 off of your student loans! If you do not meet these requirements, you can still have $5,000 forgiven if you taught for five complete and consecutive years at a Title 1 school.

If you work or worked for a public service employer, you may qualify for forgiveness! Chipper can help you determine your forgiveness eligibility.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Income-Driven Repayment (DR) Plans cap your monthly payments at 10-20% of your income and if you’re unemployed, your monthly payments may be $0. After 20-25 years of repayment, any remaining balance can be forgiven (forgiveness amount is taxable). If you have federal direct student loans, you’ll qualify for IDR plans. Find out which IDR plan that’s best for you. Chipper can help you discover your options for free!