The Corner

Education

Study: People Are Applying for Disability to Try to Get Out of Their Student Loans

From the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Unlike credit card and medical debt, [student-loan debt] typically cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. . . . However, federal student loan debt discharge is available for disabled individuals through the Department of Education’s Total and Permanent Disability Discharge (TPDD) mechanism through certification of a total and permanent disability. In July 2013, the TPDD expanded to include receipt of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as an eligible category for discharge, provided medical improvement was not expected. . . . Our estimates suggest the policy change raised the probability of applying for SSDI or SSI in a given quarter among student loan-holders by 50% (baseline rate per quarter is approximately 0.3%), generally increasing SSI and SSDI awards. However, these induced award recipients were unlikely to receive the disability designation necessary to obtain student loan discharge.

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