WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Angus King (I-ME) on Wednesday introduced Domenic’s Law, legislation to allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge.
This legislation was originally part of the Senators’ Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act which was included within both the House and Senate versions of H.R. 1, Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, according to a release from Portman’s office.
The Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act would both amend Section 437(d) of the Higher Education Act to provide student loan forgiveness to parents who take out loans for their children and also change the Internal Revenue Code to exempt individuals from the tax liability created by the forgiveness of their student loans in cases of death and disability.
However, the language pertaining to student loan discharge for parents was taken out of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act because amending the Higher Education Act was not permitted under the reconciliation rules.
“Families like the Carducci family of Steubenville, Ohio, whose son Domenic, has become permanently and totally disabled are going through unimaginable grief,” said Portman, whose interest in this issue was spurred by the outreach from constituents in Ohio. “Because of this tragic disability, they cannot afford a massive student loan bill. The last thing that families in these situations need is that kind of financial burden. I remain committed to addressing this legislative issue fully, and urge my colleagues to support providing relief to families enduring such difficult circumstances.”
“Parents whose child becomes totally and permanently disabled suffer tremendous hardship,” said Coons. “The federal government should not be making life more difficult by requiring parents to pay off student loans taken out on behalf of their disabled child. I’m pleased that the bipartisan Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act was enacted into law to make this type of loan forgiveness tax exempt. I call on my colleagues to enact this additional provision so that it’s clear in statute that all families are eligible for tax-exempt student loan forgiveness due to death and disability.”
“To ask a parent of a child who becomes permanently and totally disabled to then turn around and pay off student loans is just wrong,” Senator King said today in a statement. “Families facing this adversity shouldn’t have to endure any added financial hardship.”
The federal government authorizes the forgiveness of certain federal loans in the case of total and permanent disability of the borrower, including:
• Student loan discharge for disability. Each year, thousands of Americans, including veterans, develop disabilities or chronic health conditions so severe that they are determined by the federal government to be totally and permanently disabled. In recognition of the tremendous burden of their disabilities, Congress authorized the Department of Education to forgive outstanding federal student loans held by these Americans. Many private lenders also discharge student loans as a result of total and permanent disability.
Despite this law, families of individuals who suffer great personal loss or severe injury are often shocked to learn that the parents who took out student loans for their children are not eligible for the same student loan forgiveness by the federal government and private lenders.
Domenic’s Law will:
• Allow a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. The bill resolves an inconsistency in statute by authorizing the Department of Education to discharge federal loans owed by a parent of a child who becomes totally and permanently disabled. Currently parents are allowed to discharge federal student loans if their child dies, but not if their child develops a total and permanent disability.