I just finished reading Eleni Schirmer’s article in the New Yorker today about aging student loan debtors. This is something I regularly see as well in our law practice. Folks with crazy high balances nearing or actually in retirement, with absolutely no way to even think of paying the off the student loans. Loans that were once $20k – $30k which have ballooned to sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I was a bit disappointed that the article didn’t allude to some of the recent efforts by the Department of Education to fix some of the long standing problems facing student loan borrowers. We have been using these enhancements to existing programs to obtain much needed relief for our clients. Things like the PSLF Waiver and the IDR Waiver are much bigger than many thought, and can be used to circumvent one of the largest problems plaguing our federal system where the faulty relief methods mentioned in Ms. Schirmer’s article previously didn’t work.
No mention was made of the Total and Permanent Disability program also. I have just written about this process in a chapter to be included in a book Eldercare 101 that will be out in a few months. We love this program and our prior work with the ADA and employment law, as well as our retention of physicians with an occupational medicine specialty, have helped us to obtain tax free 100% discharges of student loan debt in a matter of months.
So while I appreciate the New Yorker’s well written article and hope that it helps to shed light on the plight of those older student loan debtors, I typically look for solutions and try to offer a plan to solve the problem. I don’t want people to think that there is nothing that can be done. Solutions are out there!