Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) May 26, 2016 - The U.S. government announced plans to eliminate $7.7 billion in student loan debt for around 400,000 severely disabled individuals.
According to the Department of Education, Americans who are “totally and permanently disabled” have no obligation to repay their federal student loans. In 2012 the government moved toward simplifying the loan forgiveness process by allowing disabled individuals use their Social Security designation to get a discharge. However, student activists claim many Americans are unaware of the benefit or have encountered difficulties with submitting paperwork. As a result, some borrowers’ disability checks have been improperly garnished.
“Many disabled individuals encounter bureaucratic hurdles when attempting to have their student loans discharged,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida, whose firm specializes in Social Security disability law. “Forms may get lost or there may be confusion about where to submit them, leading people to give up on ever getting their student loans forgiven. Simplifying the process will help ensure benefits are not taken from those who deserve relief.”
The Department of Education has now assumed the responsibility of informing potentially eligible borrowers about the forgiveness program and helping them discharge their loans. The department has collaborated with the Social Security Administration to identify individuals receiving disability benefits with the “Medical Improvement Not Expected” designation. Those who qualify will receive a letter from the government explaining how they can receive a discharge. The borrowers are now required to simply sign a document instead of presenting paperwork.
The first review of Social Security data revealed 387,000 matches. Almost half of those individuals are in default on their student loans, or going at least a year without payment. As a result, they risk losing tax refunds and having Social Security disability checks garnished, despite existing federal laws in place to prevent such a situation.
“Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief,” Department of Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell said in a statement. “Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.”
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
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Tampa, Florida 33618