Ryan believed in the American Dream. He believed that hard work and dedication could overcome any obstacle. Ryan always had a strong interest in flying and he hoped for a career with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Working to make his dream a reality, he obtained an Associate’s Degree in air traffic control and, naturally, incurred student loan debt.

Ryan has attention deficit disorder, but due to his hard work and diligence, he maintained good grades while in school. After graduation, however, things changed. Ryan began to develop symptoms of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, which made working in air traffic control impossible.

Out of work and dealing with the episodes that accompanied his disorders, Ryan found himself severely in debt and in need of assistance. On top of the student loan debt, without the job he’d hoped to obtain, he was unable to pay his credit cards and taxes, and he had no assets. The situation was daunting until he sought help from lawyers at Legal Aid Chicago.

Based on his medical diagnosis, a Legal Aid Chicago attorney was able to get Ryan the disability benefits that he qualified for under SSA guidelines and helped him file for bankruptcy to begin the process of alleviating his debt. However, he still did not qualify for a discharge of his student loan debt from the Department of Education.

Legal Aid Chicago attorneys sought a hardship discharge in bankruptcy despite it being challenging to obtain. They also demonstrated that due to Ryan’s disability, he’d been unable to find work for over two years. The Office of the U.S. Attorney fought hard, but Legal Aid Chicago’s advocates stood firm in defense of Ryan, and he was finally granted a hardship discharge that would eliminate the debt he’d accrued.

“Ryan’s debt caused him a great deal of stress.” Legal Aid Chicago Attorney Kari Beyer said. “He was relieved when he found out that, after everything he has been through, he would be getting a discharge of his student loans. This was the fresh start he needed and I’m happy to have helped relieve his past financial stress so that he could finally begin looking forward.”

Ryan is now focused on his health and receiving the care that he needs so that he can reenter the workforce soon.

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