More than 323,000 borrowers with significant or permanent disabilities will be relieved of a total of about $5.8 billion in student debt, the U.S. Education Department announced on Aug. 19. The debt relief will happen automatically, beginning this September; qualifying borrowers will be identified through a data match with the Social Security Administration.
Previously, borrowers who wished to avail themselves of this benefit had to apply and, according to a 2019 NPR report, between March 2016 and September 2019 only 28% of eligible borrowers had gotten the debt relief they were entitled to through the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge program, which was established in 1965 to erase the debt of borrowers who can no longer work as a result of disabilities. In addition, many borrowers didn’t know they were eligible.
“Today’s action removes a major barrier that prevented far too many borrowers with disabilities from receiving the total and permanent disability discharges they are entitled to under the law,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
NPR, Aug. 19