Student Loan Forgiveness for 100% Disabled Veterans: A Complete Guide

Getting a college education is expensive. Many students take out student loans to pay for tuition, books, housing, and other costs. After graduation, these loans must be repaid with interest. This can be a substantial financial burden, especially for veterans who became disabled during their service.

Luckily, some programs provide student loan forgiveness for 100% disabled veterans. This article will explain who qualifies, how to apply, and answer frequently asked questions.

Who Qualifies for Student Loan Forgiveness?

The main program that offers student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans is called Total and Permanent Disability Discharge. To qualify, a veteran must:

  • Be considered 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.)
  • Provide documentation from the V.A. showing you are 100% disabled
  • Have federal student loans when you became disabled – this includes Direct Loans, FFEL Loans, and Perkins Loans

Only federal student loans can be discharged, not private loans. And only loans taken out before becoming 100% disabled are eligible. Loans taken out after the documented disability date do not qualify.

Spouses and child dependents of disabled veterans may also have their federal student loans discharged. They must provide proof that the veteran’s 100% disability is linked to their death or inability to work.

How to Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness

To start the process, print and complete the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge application. You can find the application online at

On the application, you will need to:

  • Provide details on all your federal student loans that you want discharged
  • Give information about what caused your disability
  • Have your doctor sign a section to confirm you are totally and permanently disabled

Along with the application, you must send documentation from the V.A. proving you are 100% disabled. This can include:

  • V.A. award letter
  • Rating decision
  • Notification of benefits

Any documentation must clearly state you are 100% disabled and unable to work.

Mail the completed application and V.A. documentation to:

U.S. Department of Education

P.O. Box 87130

Lincoln, NE 68501-7130

After receiving your application, the Department of Education will review it. They may contact your doctor for additional information. You will be notified that your loans have been forgiven and any remaining balance discharged if approved.

The entire process can take around four months after submitting a complete application. Keep making payments on your student loans until you receive the final decision. If your application is denied, you have options to appeal.

The Loan Discharge Application Process

Applying for federal student loan forgiveness as a disabled veteran involves gathering documents and submitting forms. Here is a step-by-step overview of the application process:

Step 1: Print the Application

You can find the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge application at Print out the application form to complete.

Step 2: Fill Out All Fields

Provide your personal information, such as name, contact details, Social Security number, and date of birth. List all the federal student loans you want to be forgiven with account numbers.

Step 3: Complete the Disability Sections

Answer questions on the application about the nature of your disability. Confirm whether it existed before taking out the loans. Have your physician sign to verify you are totally and permanently disabled.

Step 4: Gather Documentation

Compile documentation of your 100% disability rating decision from the V.A. This must clearly state you are fully disabled and unable to work. Locate any medical records that support your condition.

Step 5: Make Copies

Make copies of everything you plan to mail – the application, V.A. letter, medical docs, and any supplemental info. Keep the originals for your records.

Step 6: Mail the Packet

Send the completed application form and copies of supporting documents to the Department of Education address provided on the application instructions. Send by certified mail with tracking for confirmation.

Step 7: Continue Loan Payments

Until you receive final notification that your discharge has been approved, keep paying for your federal student loans. Failure to pay could result in moving the loans into default.

Step 8: Wait for Processing

It takes around four months for the Department of Education to review the application and notify of approval or denial. Watch for updates by mail. Call if you have any questions on the status.

With these steps, you can seek the student loan relief you deserve after becoming disabled during military service. Submit a thorough application and documentation for the best chance of approval.

Also Read – Why Is My FedLoan Account Not Working?

If Your Discharge Application Is Denied

Only some applications for federal student loan forgiveness are approved. Here’s what to do next if your discharge is denied:

Request Reconsideration

You can request another application review within 12 months of being notified of the denial. Provide new information like medical records or letters in support of your case.

File an Appeal

To formally appeal, you must send a written request within 12 months asking for a reversal of the denial decision. Explain why you meet requirements and include any new evidence.

Seek Legal Assistance

Consider consulting a lawyer who specializes in student loan discharge for disabled veterans. They can review your case and help prepare your appeal.

Contact Your Senator

As a last resort, you can contact your Senator’s office and ask for assistance in sending a reconsideration or appeal request to the Department of Education.

Keep going if your initial application is denied. Keep meticulous records and use all resources to fight the decision. With persistence and valid evidence of your disability, approval may still be possible.

Tax Implications of Loan Discharge

One final consideration with student loan forgiveness is the potential tax impact. Here is some crucial information to know:

  • Discharged loan amounts are typically considered taxable income by the IRS
  • You should receive a 1099-C form stating the amount forgiven
  • The tax liability depends on your specific financial situation
  • Disabled veterans may qualify for tax exemption on discounted loans

Consult a tax professional to understand your obligation. Provide all paperwork related to the loan discharge. With proper documentation of V.A. disability, you may not owe taxes on the student loans forgiven due to total and permanent disability.

More Details on Qualifying for Discharge

To have federal student loans forgiven, veterans must meet specific criteria to be considered 100% disabled. Here is more information on qualifying for disability discharge:

What Makes You 100% Disabled Per the V.A.

The VA will classify veterans as 100% disabled if they determine their service-related disability:

  • This prevents you from being employed
  • It causes a significant loss of critical activities like communication, vision, movement, etc.
  • Requires constant supervision or assistance with daily needs
  • Consists of anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands, arms, feet, legs, or the loss of sight in both eyes

A 100% disability rating from the V.A. does not automatically make you eligible for student loan forgiveness. The key is needing help to secure substantially gainful employment.

Substantially Gainful Employment

This means you must be unable to work and earn more than a minimal income due to your disability. For 2022, the substantial gainful activity for disabilities is $1350 per month.

You must earn above this threshold from work to qualify for student loan discharge. Your disability prevents sustaining full-time work with livable earnings.

Timing of Disability Versus Loans

Remember, federal student loans can only be forgiven if taken out before becoming disabled. Any loans received after your documented disability date will not be discharged.

For example, if you become 100% disabled in 2016, only federal student loans taken out before 2016 are eligible for forgiveness. Loans in 2017 or later would still need repayment.

How to Prove Total Disability

To show you are eligible for student loan forgiveness under the disability discharge program, you must provide documentation of your condition and limitations. Here are some tips:

Submit Your VA Disability Rating

The VA award letter showing you are rated 100% disabled is critical evidence for your discharge application. This provides clear proof of your status from the V.A.

Get a Doctor’s Note

While a physician’s signature on the application is not mandatory, it can be beneficial. Have your doctor write a note indicating you are unable to maintain employment due to your severe disability.

Share Medical Records

Your medical files and treatment history documents can demonstrate the severity of your service-connected condition. Provide copies of relevant records that support your health status.

Explain Your Daily Obstacles

Create a personal statement describing how your disability affects basic tasks and functioning. Give real-world examples of how the inability to work, dress, eat, communicate, or care for yourself makes employment impossible.

You can prove eligibility for student loan forgiveness under this program with the proper paperwork and medical evidence.

Also Read – Private Student Loan Forgiveness: A Complete Guide

Forgiveness for Spouses and Children

In certain situations, a disabled veteran’s dependents may also receive student loan discharge. Here’s how spouses and children can qualify:

For a Spouse

If the veteran’s 100% disability rating is linked to their death, the surviving spouse can have federal student loans forgiven by:

  • Submitting documentation proving the veteran’s disability caused their death
  • Providing copies of the death certificate and marriage certificate
  • Completing the standard loan discharge application

For a Child

If the 100% disabled veteran’s condition resulted in their inability to work, a dependent child may qualify by:

  • Supplying the veteran’s V.A. disability rating and medical reports
  • Providing evidence showing the disability makes the veteran unemployable
  • Submitting the discharge application and copies of birth certificate proving the relationship

In these cases, the spouse or dependent child must have taken out the student loans before the veteran was considered 100% disabled and unable to work. Loans after the documented disability date do not qualify for forgiveness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is considered a disabled veteran?

To qualify for student loan forgiveness, a veteran must be 100% disabled, according to the V.A. This means the injury occurred during active duty and makes the veteran unable to work and earn income.

Can I still get loans forgiven if I was disabled before taking out student loans?

You must have taken out the federal student loans before becoming 100% disabled. Any loans after the documented disability date do not qualify.

Does my disability rating need to be permanent?

To qualify, the V.A. must classify you as 100% disabled on a permanent and total basis. Temporary disability ratings do not meet the requirements for student loan forgiveness.

What if my doctor won’t sign the application?

If your physician is unwilling to certify that you are totally and permanently disabled, you can submit documentation from the V.A. showing your disability rating. As long as you can prove you are 100% disabled, the doctor’s signature is not required.

What if my application for loan discharge is denied?

If your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision. Appeals must be made in writing within 12 months of being notified of the denial. Additional medical evidence can be provided to support your case for student loan discharge as a disabled veteran.


Veterans who became 100% disabled due to a service-related injury should not also have to bear the burden of student loan debt. The Total and Permanent Disability Discharge program provides federal student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans who qualify. By filing the proper paperwork and documentation with the Department of Education, veterans can seek the relief they deserve after becoming disabled while serving our country. This discharge of debt can significantly improve veterans’ financial situation and quality of life.

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