If you think you might qualify and want to apply for a total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge, you must provide the information the U.S. Department of Education (called “the Department” throughout this site) needs to make a determination by completing a TPD discharge application and gathering supporting documentation that shows you are totally and permanently disabled. Depending on your situation, you will either attach the supporting documentation to your application or have your physician complete Section 4 of your application. Once everything is complete, you’ll mail the discharge application and, if required, the supporting documentation to us.
To obtain a TPD discharge application, you may choose one of the following options:
Yes, your representative can complete and submit your TPD discharge application on your behalf, and assist you throughout the discharge process. However, you and your representative must complete an Applicant Representative Designation form. We must receive and process this form before we can work with your representative. You must submit this form even if you have a power of attorney for your representative.
To download and/or print the Applicant Representative Designation form, click here.
Regardless of how you obtain a TPD discharge application, the information that you provide when you apply will assist the Department in determining if you qualify for discharge of your federal student loans and/or TEACH Grant service obligation on the basis of your total and permanent disability. You can show that you are totally and permanently disabled in one of the following three ways:
1 – If you are a veteran, you can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability;
2 – If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can submit a Social Security Administration (SSA) notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within 5 to 7 years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination; or
3 – You can submit certification from a physician that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that:
Each option for showing that you are totally and permanently disabled has specific requirements for the supporting documentation that you must submit with your TPD discharge application. In the next section, we explain the discharge application and supporting documentation requirements for each option. Once you identify the option that applies to you, read the information under Actions to Take to understand what you’ll need to do to apply.
If you are a veteran, you will be considered totally and permanently disabled for the purposes of this discharge if you provide documentation from the VA showing that the VA has determined:
Actions to Take:
Note: If you provide the VA documentation described earlier, you are not required to have a physician complete Section 4 of the application.
If you are receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, you will be considered totally and permanently disabled for the purposes of this discharge if you provide an SSA notice of award for SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within 5 to 7 years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination.
If your SSA notice of award does not indicate when your next scheduled disability review will occur, you can obtain this information by calling your local SSA office or by calling 800.772.1213 and requesting a Benefits Planning Query. The Benefits Planning Query will show when your next review is scheduled to occur.
Note: If you provide the SSA documentation described earlier, you are not required to have a physician complete Section 4 of the application
Alternatively, to show that you are totally and permanently disabled for the purposes of this discharge, you may submit the TPD discharge application with a certification from a physician that shows you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that (1) can be expected to result in death; (2) has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or (3) can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months.
“Substantial gainful activity” is a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical and/or mental activities.
After we receive your TPD discharge application, we will take the following actions:
When your TPD discharge application is complete, mail your application and, if required, your supporting documentation to us at the following address:
U.S. Department of Education
P.O. Box 87130
Lincoln, NE 68501-7130
If you have additional questions about this process, refer to the FAQ section of this website.
You can also call us seven days a week at 888.303.7818 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) or email us at DisabilityInformation@Nelnet.net.