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Disabled Tennesseans can have student loan debt discharged

Tennesseans who are permanently disabled have a lot on their plates. From navigating the world of Social Security disability benefits, to managing their health care, they may face a myriad of everyday challenges.

There is good news, however, for those Tennesseans who are permanently disabled and have federal student loans. The Obama administration is taking steps to forgive the federal student loan debt of those Americans who are permanently disabled. There are almost 400,000 permanently disabled persons in America who have federal student loans worth approximately $7.7 billion.

Under current law, those with a severe disability who have federal student loans are eligible for the government to discharge these debts if they have a designation of "Medical Improvement Not Expected." In order to encourage use of this underused option, the Department of Education is working to identify borrowers who are eligible for student loan discharge and help them through the process of discharging their student loans.

The availability of a student loan discharge is particularly significant for those permanently disabled Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipients who are currently in default on their loans, which amounts to approximately 179,000 people, as without a discharge these persons face the risk of having their Social Security benefits garnished. For Tennesseans who rely on SSDI benefits for daily living expenses, losing these benefits would be a significant burden.

The administration's efforts to smooth the discharge process for student loan debt is great news for many disabled Tennesseans. If you have questions regarding this process, or questions regarding any of the other complex federal regulations involved in the Social Security disability program, you may find that experienced legal counsel can be of assistance.

Source: The Washington Post, "Obama to forgive the student debt of permanently disabled people," Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, April 12, 2016

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