If you're disabled, you're probably already struggling with a reduced income. Trying to pay your rent, utilities, and basic necessities can be difficult enough without adding things like student loans into the picture. Will your student loans be forgiven if your Social Security disability claim is approved? The short answer is: "Probably." However, forgiveness isn't automatic. This is what you can do and how your attorney can help you.
First, Avoid Default (Or Get Out Of It)
Don't allow your student loans to go into default because of your reduced income while your Social Security disability claim is pending. If they've already gone into default, you need to take prompt action to resolve the situation.
Generally, you have two options. The first (and usually preferable) option is deferment. If you aren't delinquent on your loans, a deferment based on financial hardship allows you to forgo payments and will stop any interest from accruing on your subsidized loans. However, any unsubsidized loans (like PLUS loans) will still continue to accrue interest.
If you're delinquent on your loans or don't qualify for a deferment for some reason, you can request a forbearance. A forbearance will pull your loans out of delinquent status, but it won't stop loan interest from accruing.
Keeping your loans out of delinquent status will stop any legal action against you over them, such as property liens, the seizure of any savings accounts, or the seizure of your tax returns. It also protects your credit record.
Second, Apply For A Disability Discharge
You or your attorney can apply for a total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge of your student loans. You don't have to wait until your Social Security claim has been won to apply.
If you have already won your disability case, carefully review your disability award letter to see how many years it is before you are scheduled for what's known as a continuing disability review (CDR). That's how long it will be before SSA reviews your condition to see if you are still disabled.
If your review is set for 5 years or longer, you can use that letter to qualify for your TPD discharge.
What if you've been approved for benefits but your letter doesn't indicate when your review will be? You or your attorney can request what's known as a "Benefits Planning Query" from SSA, or a letter that directly states when your next medical review is scheduled.
If your disability case hasn't yet been won or your award letter indicates that your next medical review is sooner than 5 years, don't worry. Your doctor can provide certification that your medical condition is disabling and can be expected to last for at least 5 years. If your disability claim hasn't yet been decided, don't wait for the decision to apply for loan forgiveness. You can resolve the issue with your loans with the doctor's certification in the meantime.
If you're having trouble navigating the process for getting your student loans deferred, your attorney can help you. In fact, since the issues are intertwined, discuss your student loans with your attorney when you retain him or her. Your attorney may be able to argue during your disability hearing for a CDR date 5 years (or longer) out. If successful, that can make the process of getting your student loans forgiven much easier. For more information, speak with experts like the Craig H Kline Law Office.