On April 12, 2016, President Obama announced an executive action to notify 387,000 Social Security disability beneficiaries of their possible eligibility to have their outstanding student loan balances discharged. If you have an outstanding student loan and have a "total and permanent disability" it may be possible for you to have your student loan balance discharged. The SSA plans to send out notices informing individual borrowers who are receiving disability benefits as to whether they are eligible. In order to be found eligible, the SSA must consider you to in the category of "Medical Improvement Not Expected." If the SSA does not find that you are in this category, you have the right to submit additional evidence of your disability to prove that your disability is not expected to improve and then the SSA will determine if you are eligible for the student loan discharge. Obama's action was taken as part of implement the Administration's Student Aid Bill of Rights of 2015.
The Social Security Administration recognizes that people with Intellectual Disabilities may not be able to work and their IQ deficits can result in a severe disability. Under SSA’s Listed Impairment 12.05, Intellectual Disability is defined as follows:
Intellectual disability: Intellectual disability refers to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested during the developmental period; i.e., the evidence demonstrates or supports onset of the impairment before age 22.
The required level of severity for this disorder is met when, under 12.05 B, the claimant has a valid verbal, performance, or Full Scale IQ of 59 or less. Under listed impairment 12.05 C, the claimant can also meet or equal the listing if they have:
A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70 and a physical or other mental impairment imposing an additional and significant work-related limitation of function.
Additionally, a claimant can meet or equal a listing under 12.05 D, which is as follows:
D. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60 through 70, resulting in at least two of the following: 1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or 2. Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or 3. Marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or 4. Repeated episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration.
The majority of individuals whose testing falls below 70 are typically in the bottom 10% of “general learning ability,” which is a term used by the SSA to determine if an individual can work. If an individual’s IQ is in the bottom 10% of general learning ability they should be found unable to work at any job in the national economy. Many vocational experts and judges ignore this fact. If you or a family member is seeking disability benefits and has valid IQ testing from a psychologist that falls within the above ranges, you should contact our office and we can help you file a disability claim. Children with intellectual disabilities may also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.