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Disabled Former Cop in Student Loan Story Gets Her Debt Forgiven

The Department of Education has finally forgiven the student debt of disabled former police officer Tina Brooks—who we featured in our Feb. 13 story about the government’s broken program for forgiving the federal student loans of borrowers who become seriously disabled.

Brooks, who fractured her spine when she fell 15 feet down a steep rock quarry while training for bicycle patrol, had spent six years battling to persuade the Education Department that she was too disabled to work again. The department had repeatedly denied her applications for loan forgiveness, and more than $4,000 in interest had accrued on her debt, even though Social Security had found that she was fully disabled in 2006. (See our Interactive Timeline showing Brooks’ struggles to cancel her loans.)

“I feel like this giant weight has been taken off my shoulders,” Brooks said. “Six years of filling out the forms and hoping it was the right thing and cringing every time I would hear I needed more information and had to go crawling back to my doctor.”

Our investigation—a joint effort with the Center for Public Integrity and the Chronicle of Higher Education—found that although borrowers who develop severe and lasting disabilities are legally entitled to get federal student loans forgiven, the process for deciding who is eligible is dysfunctional, opaque and duplicates similar reviews conducted by other federal agencies. Many borrowers have been denied for unclear reasons, and many others have simply given up.

Following our story, the Education Department pledged to overhaul the program and said it will propose new regulations this summer to make the system work better for disabled borrowers.

For Brooks, the approval of her loan discharge application comes just before the deferments she had received for economic hardship were scheduled to run out. She said she didn’t know how she would have paid the $47,500 that she owed on her loans and had been preparing for another struggle with Education Department bureaucracy when she found out last weekend that her debt had been forgiven.

“No more fighting. No more battling that windmill,” Brooks said. “I am so relieved.”

As my wife, who is blind says - I’ll believe it when I see it.

I can say that I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your role in helping this through to a favorable conclusion.

Barry Schmittou

March 2, 2011, 11:25 p.m.

This is why I have repeatedly asked ProPublica to cover the evidence seen at http://www.godknowsobamaknows.blogspot.com

Obama’s DOL top managers will take no action after seeing quotes from numerous U.S. Judges’ and two Professor’s that prove insurance companies are paying doctor’s who intentionally ignore disabled patients brain lesions, multiple sclerosis, cardiac conditions, cancer, and they also attack psychological patients.

Here’s a quote written by Joseph Belth, Professor Emeritus for Insurance at Indiana University :

“They’ve turned Erisa on its head,”  “It was supposed to protect employees, and it’s being used to protect insurers.”

(3) John Marshall Law School Professor Mark Debofsky wrote :

“empirical evidence is now available that shows insurers operating under ERISA have systematically engaged in the wrongful denial of claims.”

Please go to http://www.godknowsobamaknows.blogspot.com and see how numerous laws are being violated simultaneously by Obama’s major campaign contributors !!

Think you have to go back to the Republicans and their Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) (Pub.L. 109-8, 119 Stat. 23, enacted April 20, 2005) when you look for why our government and the banks both stink at ethical and moral behavior.

I kind of think of April 20, 2005 as the day the Republicans officially turned America’s government over to the banks…and you have to remember that even “Big Business” has no choice but to kowtow to the bankers.

How are you going to beat somebody who gets to charge practically unlimited interest rates on money they borrow from the Fed system practically for free?

lolll…you cannot guarantee your cost basis and thus your profits - and so your ability to sustain any form of financial protest, like avoiding doing business with the scummier bankers - like the banks can.

Derek C. Foster

March 3, 2011, 10:24 a.m.

In your article, “Disabled Former Cop in Student Loan Story Gets Her Debt Forgiven”,  I take offense at a specific phrase in your opening remarks.


The Department of Education has finally forgiven the student debt of disabled former police officer Tina Brooks—who we featured in our Feb. 13 story [1] about the government’s broken program for forgiving the federal student loans of borrowers who become seriously disabled


Specifically,  the phrase ‘seriously disabled’, offends me.  When you are disabled, whether it is a paper cut or a closed head injury, it becomes ‘serious’ , on a personal level.  I gather that your remards are directed to those who haven’t had anything in the spectrum previously mentioned, occur during their lifetime.

Unbelievable that they put her through more stress for years, while they don’t even go after people who have stiffed them on student loans. 

That was the first thing my husband and I paid off before buying anything else!  They should go after every person who does not repay their student loans.  Veterans and cops should have theirs forgiven if they’re disabled.  C’mon!

To:ibsteve2u—and the Democrats kowtow to the illegals for future votes, right?  I wonder how many illegals have student loans that are not getting repaid?!?  They shouldn’t even be in the country, much less getting student loans!  Is that ok?  The Democrats could care less about illegals—- they’re just future Democrat voters in Dem’s eyes.. 

Pass E-Verify now!  Require all employers to use E-Verify to keep illegals from taking American jobs!  I had to pay for my entire college education at a state school.  Why should ILLEGALS get in-state tuition to the detriment of an AMERICAN?!?  It makes no sense whatsoever and Americans are fed up with it all!  Illegals are going to have to go….states are cracking down.  :-)

chinese lover

March 4, 2011, 4:54 a.m.

I love the way China deals with the untermenschen. No disablity for the fakers.Let them waste away as parasites do. Only reward the truly disabled.

Marilyn Howells

March 4, 2011, 2:02 p.m.

My insurer PEIA (Public Employees Insurance Agency) contracts with for profit insurance companies to handle our benefits. PEIA is run by a former insurance company executive. They are doing things to us, that will probably spread to others. They are forcing us to do Advance Directives or pay higher premiums every month. At first they talked about $300 extra a year, but settled on $48 as a foot in the door. How lon until they increase this to 100s amonth? I don’t have a problem with advance directives, but anyone would be concerned that a for profit insurance company is going to require this.  Companies at which execeutives are paid hundreds of millions in salaries, bonuses, and stock options. What’s more they are sending our forms that only require one physician (not neceassarily your own) to find you tereminal or comotose, and define comotose only as “unconscious”. These forms are in smaller print than most legal forms (and they are sending them to the elderly with lots of unused white space in the margins etc. Why?) , and lack other safety features, that many advance directives have. These are for all employees and retirees, and many are poorly paid, and many are older, and have pensions of less than 400 or 500, and small SS checks.  They can not afford to go to a lawyers for a better one. This will be the only legal advice they get, this form sent by the insurance company. A real fear is how long till they try to interpret them. Many don’t realize this can be used to stop antibiotics, fluids, etc. The Advance Driective seems to override the Medical Power of Attorney, and as such it might prevent your loved ones from obtaining a second opinion.  All which translates to big bonuses for the executives. Be very afraid. Once a few insurance companies do this, it will set a precedent that others will force you to do this. This same PEIA, forced all the retirees off the real orginal Medicare and onto Medicare Advantage (though private for profit insurance companies) with all it’s disadvantages, as a condition of keeping our supplement for which we had worked our whole lives.  The first Medicare DIS-Advantage Plan they forced us on, was Coventry, and affiliate of the CareLink the former employer of the new PEIA Director. Go figure.

Marilyn Howells

March 4, 2011, 2:10 p.m.

My insurer PEIA (Public Employees Insurance Agency) contracts with for profit insurance companies to handle our benefits. PEIA is run by a former insurance company executive. They are doing things to us, that will probably spread to others. They are forcing us to do Advance Directives or pay higher premiums every month. At first they talked about $300 extra a year, but settled on $48 as a foot in the door. How lon until they increase this to 100s amonth? I don’t have a problem with advance directives, but anyone would be concerned that a for profit insurance company is going to require this.  Companies at which execeutives are paid hundreds of millions in salaries, bonuses, and stock options. What’s more they are sending our forms that only require one physician (not neceassarily your own) to find you tereminal or comotose, and define comotose only as “unconscious”. These forms are in smaller print than most legal forms (and they are sending them to the elderly with lots of unused white space in the margins etc. Why?) , and lack other safety features, that many advance directives have. These are for all employees and retirees, and many are poorly paid, and many are older, and have pensions of less than 400 or 500, and small SS checks.  They can not afford to go to a lawyers for a better one. This will be the only legal advice they get, this form sent by the insurance company. A real fear is how long till they try to interpret them. Many don’t realize this can be used to stop antibiotics, fluids, etc. The Advance Driective seems to override the Medical Power of Attorney, and as such it might prevent your loved ones from obtaining a second opinion.  All which translates to big bonuses for the executives. Be very afraid. Once a few insurance companies do this, it will set a precedent that others will force you to do this. This same PEIA, forced all the retirees off the real orginal Medicare and onto Medicare Advantage (though private for profit insurance companies) with all it’s disadvantages, as a condition of keeping our supplement for which we had worked our whole lives.  The first Medicare DIS-Advantage Plan they forced us on, was Coventry, and affiliate of the CareLink the former employer of the new PEIA Director. Go figure

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
College Debt

College Debt

Total outstanding college debt is estimated at $1 trillion dollars – and with costs still soaring, the burden on students and their families shows no signs of abating. We're examining how the complicated system of college debt is putting the squeeze on families.

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