Biden just canceled student debt for 41,000 borrowers with disabilities. Here's who qualifies.

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A university student stands in her graduation gown wearing a protective mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. recep-bg/Getty
  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona canceled student debt for over 41,000 borrowers with disabilities.

  • He also waived a requirement to provide income documentation when applying for relief.

  • People with total permanent disabilities who can no longer work may qualify for student loan forgiveness.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Monday canceled student debt for over 41,000 borrowers with disabilities and removed paperwork requirements, easing the process for eligible borrowers to receive relief.

In a rule established under President Barack Obama, anyone determined as totally and permanently disabled was eligible to receive student debt cancelation, with a requirement to submit documentation during a three-year monitoring period to verify that their incomes did not exceed the poverty line.

Cardona waived the rule to submit that paperwork, which will help 230,000 borrowers receive debt relief.

"Borrowers with total and permanent disabilities should focus on their well-being, not put their health on the line to submit earnings information during the COVID-19 emergency," Cardona said in a statement.

People with total permanent disabilities who may qualify for student loan forgiveness are generally unable to work for the rest of their lives. This may include people who cannot work because they have physical or mental impairments like paralysis or blindness.

Here is how borrowers with disabilities can qualify for student loan forgiveness, according to the DOE:

Ruling from the Department of Veteran Affairs

Veterans can qualify for student loan forgiveness if the VA indicates to the DOE that the veteran has a disability that is "100% disabling," causing the person to be unemployable. If this is the case, the DOE will notify eligible veterans that they qualify for a student loan discharge, and if veterans believe they qualify but were never contacted, they can submit an application with information from the VA proving their disability status.

Social Security benefits

Borrowers who receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits may also be eligible for student loan forgiveness. The DOE will contact borrowers who have a scheduled disability review between five and seven years from the date of their most recent SSA disability determination, and borrowers will not have to submit any documentation on their own.

If borrowers receive SSDI or SSI benefits but were not contacted by the DOE, they can apply and provide documentation of the benefits they receive.

Diagnosis from a physician

The final way to receive student loan forgiveness is via proof of a licensed physician. The physician must certify that the borrower is totally and permanently disabled and unable to engage in any type of gainful activity caused by a physical or mental impairment that:

  • Can be expected to result in death;

  • Has lasted for a continuous period of at least 60 months;

  • And can be expected to last a continuous period of at least 60 months.

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