Advocates will recall that in 2012, the Department of Education amended its regulations governing discharge of federal student loans based on total and permanent disability. See the December edition of the Disability Law News, http://www.empirejustice.org/issue-areas/disability-benefits/non-disability-issues/misc/federal-student-loan.html#.V3QEscv6vIU. But not all disabled borrowers were aware of or able to take advantage these provisions.
As part of the March 2015 Presidential Student Aid Bill of Rights Memorandum, President Obama required the Secretary of Education and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, to develop a plan to identify federal student loan borrowers who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and determine which beneficiaries qualify for a total and permanent disability discharge of their student loans. In April, the Department of Education announced it will begin contacting borrowers identified by this match to inform them of the loan cancellation process.
Of the people the Department identified, over 100,000 of those borrowers have been certified for the Treasury Offset Program, meaning that they are at risk of losing federal tax refunds, and of having a portion of their Social Security benefits taken. While the new matching program is intended to help SSDI recipients apply for this relief, it will not automatically stop those offsets from occurring. Borrowers still need to apply for relief. A Department of Education website includes information on how to get a “total and permanent disability” discharge of federal student loan debt. There is also an online application. http://www.disabilitydischarge.com/Application-Process/.