The physician's role is crucial in the discharge process. A borrower with a medically disabling condition will not be considered eligible for a total and permanent disability discharge unless the borrower's physician certifies that the borrower is totally and permanently disabled by thoroughly completing "Section 4: Physician's Certification" on the Discharge Application: Total and Permanent Disability
The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) defines totally and permanently disabled 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:
i. Can be expected to result in death;
ii. Has lasted for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or
iii. Can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 60 months; or
(2) Has been determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable due to a service-connected disability.
“Substantial gainful activity” is defined for purposes of this discharge as a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical or mental activities, or both.
Select Physician Responsibilities to learn more about the physician's role in the TPD discharge process. Frequently Asked Questions for Physicians and a description of the TPD process are also available.
In order to complete the form, the physician must:
- Be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy legally authorized to practice in one of the 50 states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federal States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.
- Complete the application by typing or printing in dark ink.
- Initial any changes made to the physician’s responses or the date of the physician’s signature.
- Return the application to the patient requesting the total and permanent disability discharge.
- Make sure that items 1, 2, and 3 in Section 4 of the application are completed thoroughly (see below).
Question 1 – If you cannot answer “Yes,” DO NOT COMPLETE THE FORM.
If you check “No,” fail to check a box, or check both boxes, the application will be denied.
Question 2a – Provide the diagnosis of the disabling condition(s) without using abbreviations or insurance codes.
Question 2b – Describe the severity of the disabling medical condition by describing the phase of a progressive disease, the duration of the disabling condition, attempted surgeries or treatments, pervasiveness of the disease or injury, and the level of pain suffered.
(a) Diabetes mellitus - Type 2; HIV - AIDS
(b) Major depression - ongoing for the past 10 years, unresponsive to therapy
(c) Rheumatoid arthritis - affecting all joints, chronic pain and inflammation
Question 3 – Supply a description of all relevant limitations imposed by the borrower’s disabling condition. Please use the category lines provided. If a particular field does not apply to an applicant’s condition, enter “N/A.” We encourage you to attach any additional information that would be helpful in understanding the applicant’s condition, such as a list and description of the applicant's medications, responses to medications, surgical procedures undergone or soon to occur, non-surgical treatments, a history of the applicant's physical examination results, etc. If you need to attach additional pages, please note “See attached.”
You may be contacted for additional information. Please respond promptly to all requests for additional information.
Section 3 of the application includes the applicant's authorization for you to release medical information to the borrower's loan holder(s) and/or the Department.