How do I respond to this collection agency? I am a stage 4 cancer cancer patient on disability. My doctor and I filled out the necessary disability paperwork for the Dept. of. Edu. 2 years ago, and thought that this took care of this matter.Only in the past 2 weeks I have been getting phone calls again from a collection agency, claiming they have been hired by the Dept. of Ed. to try and collect from me.How should I proceed?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Pennsylvania
Thanks for using Pearl.com It will be my pleasure to assist you today.I am very sorry to learn of your health issues, and now the added stress caused to you by the collection agency.In order to better serve you, please provide the following information:Were you sued by the Department of Education?Why does the Department say that you owe money?How much does the collection agency say that you owe?Thanks
Thank you in advance. No, not sued by the Dept. of Ed. This is a VERY old student loan - from 1983 - that I didn't finish paying. The interest and fees are much more that the original loan!
Agency says I owe about $ 30,000.00
You may qualify for a disability discharge or forgiveness of your federal student loans if you are unable to work or otherwise earn an income in the future.Since you are on disability, you can request a Disability Discharge Form from the Department of Education. Did you do that?That is separate and apart from your physician's signature to get disability.Thanks
xavierjd... please let me say, again, in advance....
You're great! This is a great service. Esp. because I am pretty much homebound... and poor!!
OK, here goes.
I already filled out these DD forms, years ago. Came from the Dept.of Ed. themselves. At the time I was being helped by a lawyer in my Congressman's office... so it was definitely done in a very "official" way!
Had letters written to my Congressman (and me) from several employees at the Dept. of Ed.
(I have copies of all this correspondence, btw.)
Like I said, I thought this matter was "closed", if you will. I met their standards for disability, and was not to be contacted again. Or so I thought.
Only now it seems to have resurfaced.
On a personal note, I am not exactly sure what you have to do, other than die, to qualify for forgiveness. (?)
I'm not trying to insult you in any way, but you may be confusing receiving your disability benefits with disability discharge of federal student loans. Unless you have a specific letter from the Department of Education that unequivocally discharged your student loans, then even though you thought that they had been discharged, they had not. If that is so, or if there is any question, there are specific things that you can do.You may qualify for a disability discharge or forgiveness of your federal student loans if you are unable to work or otherwise earn an income in the future. It sounds like you should meet this criteria, but you are dealing with the government!
Call the holders of your student loans. Request a disability discharge form. Document this telephone call. Make sure to write down the time of your call and as well as the person's name. Do not be intimidated by the person on the other end of the telephone, especially if you have a student loans in default or collections because they will sometimes try to mislead you into thinking that you cannot potentially qualify for a loan discharge. If this person feels harassing in their perpetual questioning about why you seek to discharge your loans, restate that you want the disability discharge form sent to you.
Go to your doctor. The only acceptable signature for this student loan discharge form is a medical doctor. The doctor must sign the form attesting to a couple of statements that verify the nature of your disability and in what way this prevents you from working and earning money.
As soon as you request the disability discharge form from the student loan lender, make an appointment with your doctor. If possible have a discussion prior to the appointment to see if he or she is willing to sign complete the discharge application. Make sure to keep a copy of the signed application form.
Wait. After sending in all the required forms now you have to wait until you hear back from the loan holder or the Disability Division of the Department of Education. If you meet the requirements to have your loan forgiven this does not mean your loan is gone right away. There is a conditional discharge period that lasts three years. But, the status of your loan changes, interest will stop accruing on your account, and collection on your account stops.
It can take several weeks to hear back from the lender. Write down the date you sent your application. If you haven't received any notification from them, but are still getting payment notices or if you're just plain impatient, call them. Sometimes being proactive and calling will get you more information.
Make sure to have your doctor fill out a discharge application for each separate lender. If you have one loan with SallieMae and another with some other bank then you will have to fill out separate applications. Although the information will be the same they are going to different places so make sure you find all of your student loans.
Make a copy of your letter. Send the original by certified mail, and pay for a “return receipt” so you’ll be able to document what the collector received. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again, with two exceptions: a collector can contact you to tell you there will be no further contact or to let you know that they or the creditor intend to take a specific action, like filing a lawsuit. Sending such a letter to a debt collector you owe money to does not get rid of the debt, but it should stop the contact. The creditor or the debt collector still can sue you to collect the debt.
You "jokingly," but unfortunately, probably only one-half "jokingly" asked the question (and I don't quote it) : "What do I have to do...die to stop the debt?"
Believe it or not,that is about all that will stop the government from collecting the debt, unless you are granted the discharge of loan because of your hardship.
If you are sued for the defaulted student loans, and a judgment is obtained against you, believe it or not, Sallie Mae (federally guaranteed student loans) and its debt collection representatives retain the ability to sue debtors to obtain a judgment for garnishing Social Security benefits to pay defaulted federally guaranteed student loans. These are student loans secured by the federal government. In Pennsylvania, a debt collector may not take any amount that would leave debtors with annual benefit of less than $9,000 annually, or $750 per month, and may not take more than 15 of total Social Security benefits from any debtor.
You may also wish to contact an attorney in your area who specializes in debtor/creditor law. Below is a link to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Attorney Referral Page.
You may be able to speak to an attorney regarding the specific facts of your case for one-half hour for as little as $15.00. It may be well worth your while to do so. The attorney can give you any options that you may have and give you legal advice. As an expert for Pearl.com, I am prohibited from giving legal advice. I can only provide you with information. If your loans are not discharged and you are sued, you will have to answer the lawsuit. However, that is NOT something that you need to worry about now.
You may wish to employ the services of an attorney to assist you with the paperwork for discharging the loan. You may qualify for legal aid to do so. You can contact the Pennsylvania Bar Association regarding your situation. If you can hire an attorney or get an attorney through legal aid, then the attorney can do all of the leg work for you.
You need to concentrate on your health FIRST. If you can get assistance with the paperwork, then you can RELAX and let the attorney do his/her job to help you.
I applaud you for inquiring about the status of your federal student loans. Many folks in your situation may not care about such things. Your inquiry says a lot about your integrity. Keep fighting for your health and keep fighting for your federal loans to be discharged.
Private student loans are a WHOLE different story. And, hopefully, your loans are federal in nature.
I hope you find this information useful. If you have additional questions, please ask.
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20+ yrs in criminal, landlord/tenant, family, & small claims
Xavierjd...sorry for the delay. Had a cup of tea while I was waiting... and dozed off. I apologize. (Am sleepy a lot.)
What an incredible amount of info. you have provided me with! I thank you immensely.
No, I assure you I had not confused my "disabilities."
I only hope now that I can find an attorney willing to help me.
Thank you also for the acknowledgement. Sometimes I feel that all I have left right now IS my integrity.
And I have had this awful thought that if I do "go", the Federal Gov. is going to be chasing my family members around afterwards trying to collect a very old student loan. :(
ps... yes, the loans are federal, btw.
Thank you for the advice, the information,
and the very thoughtful! kind words.
You are welcome.I can tell that you are a fighter! Win the battles and the war!
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