Apply for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge
Before applying for discharge due to total and permanent disability:
- Review the borrower roles and responsibilities for the TPD process.
- Review the Conditions below, in addition to the instructions on this page.
- After the physician signs the application and before mailing the application, make a copy for your records. If you have more than one loan holder, you must apply separately to each loan holder. (See the instructions on the form for more details)
Loan Holders have been previously advised that borrowers must submit their Application for Total and Permanent Disability (Application) with the original signature of the borrower, not a photocopy or other facsimile. The Department has determined that borrowers may provide the loan holder with a photocopy or facsimile signature and no longer need to provide an original signature on the Application, and loan holders may process the application with the photocopy or facsimile signature. In addition, the certification of a photocopy discharge application is no longer required. (Updated as of 8/1/11)
Effective July 1, 2010, total and permanent disability is defined as the condition of an individual who—
1) Is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death, has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months, or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months;
2) Has been determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable due to a service-connected disability.
“Substantial gainful activity” is a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical or mental activities, or both.
Loan holders (lenders and guaranty agencies for the FFEL Program and schools for the Federal Perkins Loan Program) must evaluate all discharge applications received on or after July 1, 2010 in accordance with this definition of total and permanent disability. If it is unclear whether the borrower is totally and permanently disabled under the new definition, the loan holder must follow up with the physician and provide documentation establishing the borrower’s eligibility. In addition, the Department will apply the new definition when reviewing all discharge applications that were received by the loan holder on or after July 1, 2010.
Veterans qualifying under the second condition above may apply for discharge under a separate process. Please see Veterans Disability Discharge for more information.
Click here to access the Discharge Application: Total and Permanent Disability (PDF).
The Conditions for TPD Discharge are as follows:
- The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) must find that the borrower’s completed Discharge Application: Total and Permanent Disability(PDF) supports the conclusion that the borrower is totally and permanently disabled.
- The borrower's loan holder or (for a TEACH Grant) the Department must receive the application within 90 days of the date the physician signed the application.
- If a borrower receives a FFEL, Perkins, or Direct Loan program loan or a TEACH Grant prior to the date the physician signed the application (the Physician Signature Date) and a disbursement of that loan or grant is made on or after the Physician Signature Date and before the date the Department grants discharge, the loan holder must suspend processing of the borrower’s loan discharge request until the borrower ensures that the full amount of the disbursement has been returned to the loan holder or to the Department, as applicable.
- If a borrower receives a TPD discharge of a loan or TEACH Grant service obligation, the borrower will be required to repay the discharged loan or complete the discharged service obligation if, within 3 years following the date the Department grants the discharge (this 3-year period is known as the post-discharge monitoring period), the borrower:
- Has annual employment earnings that exceed the Poverty Guidelines for a family of two in the borrower’s state;
- Receives a new Perkins or Direct Loan or a new TEACH Grant; or
- Fails to return a loan disbursement to the loan holder or a TEACH Grant disbursement to the Department within 120 days of the disbursement date, in the case of a loan or TEACH Grant that was made before the discharge date, but was disbursed during the 3-year post-discharge monitoring period.
- If a borrower’s obligation to repay a discharged loan is reinstated, the Department will notify the borrower of the reinstatement, and will not require the borrower to pay interest on the loan for the period from the date of discharge until the reinstatement date. The notification to the borrower will include (1) the reason(s) for the reinstatement; (2) an explanation that the first payment due date on the reinstated loan will be no earlier than 60 days after the date of the notification of reinstatement; and (3) information on how the borrower may contact the Department if the borrower has questions about the reinstatement or believes that the obligation to repay the loan was reinstated based on incorrect information. Comparable information will be provided to TEACH Grant recipients if a discharged TEACH Grant service obligation is reinstated.
- During the 3-year post-discharge monitoring period, the borrower must promptly notify the Department if the borrower receives annual earnings from employment that exceed the poverty line amount for a family of two in his or her state, regardless of actual family size; or if there is a change in the borrower’s address or telephone number. If requested, the borrower must also provide the Department with documentation of his or her annual earnings from employment.
- A borrower who receives a TPD discharge of a Title IV loan or TEACH Grant service obligation is not eligible for future loans under the Perkins Loan or Direct Loan Programs or future TEACH Grants unless the borrower:
- Obtains a certification from a physician that the borrower is able to engage in substantial gainful activity;
- Acknowledges in writing that the new loan or TEACH Grant service obligation cannot be discharged in the future on the basis of any illness or injury present at the time when the loan or TEACH Grant is made, unless that condition substantially deteriorates so that the borrower is again totally and permanently disabled; and
- If the borrower requests a new Perkins Loan, Direct Loan Program loan, or TEACH Grant within three years of the date that a previous loan or TEACH Grant was discharged, the borrower resumes payment on the previously discharged loan or acknowledges that he or she is once again subject to the terms of the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve before receiving the new loan or TEACH Grant.