According to current federal government statistics, the total student loan balance of Americans stands at $1.6 trillion.
And student loan debt isn’t just affecting millennials. It’s not uncommon to meet people close to retirement age who still have tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
So I pretty regularly meet clients who want to know if there’s any hope of having these loans discharged if they’re found disabled.
Individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income may be eligible for a total disability discharge of their student loans, but whether they’re aware this is a possibility and the government will actually honor it is another matter.
Earlier this summer, nine plaintiffs in New York prevailed in a lawsuit to get back the thousands of dollars the federal government garnished from their disability checks to pay for student loans.
As part of the settlement, the government agreed to send garnishment notices to any address it has on file for those who are delinquent on their student loans, not just the last address on their income taxes.
The notice will also include information about the total disability discharge that wasn’t previously included.
Exact numbers are hard to come by, but it’s estimated that as many as 400,000 Americans currently receiving disability benefits could be eligible for a total disability discharge of their student loans.
Following the lawsuit, the Department of Education has also agreed to cross-reference borrowers with disability applicants to hopefully better identify individuals who could qualify for the program.