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Updated on Monday, October 12, 2015
Do you have a loved one in the military who tragically passed away while on active duty? Did he or she have any outstanding debt with JPMorgan Chase you’re now responsible for paying?
If so, you may be able to find relief through JPMorgan Chase’s Military Survivor Program. It offers debt forgiveness to surviving family members of servicemembers who had a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, or student loan through Chase. While it has only been in existence since 2013, it has already forgiven $4.3 billion of debt.
This could be a huge relief for many military families struggling to get by with one (or no) income after receiving such devastating news.
If you’ve been left with the burden of a mortgage, student loans, auto loans, or consumer debt through Chase, read on to find out how you can get your debt forgiven.
Details of the Program
From the website directly: “The goal of this program is to offer debt forgiveness to surviving family members and beneficiaries for the debt of military customers who have been killed in combat action or died in a combat theater of operations since January 1st, 2011.”
Chase has several military initiatives for those who serve the country, and its Military Survivor Program is another initiative it began to lessen the financial blow of losing a loved one.
Eligibility and Debt That Can be Forgiven
Surviving family members and beneficiaries of fallen military servicemembers are eligible to get debt they’re now responsible for forgiven.
Here’s a list of what debts are eligible and the requirements for each:
- Mortgage: As long as the mortgage is for a residential property with 1 to 4 units, or a manufactured home, the balance of the mortgage can be forgiven.
- Auto loan: For survivors with a financed vehicle, you can apply to have the balance waived, but you’re not guaranteed to keep the vehicle. For survivors with a leased vehicle, you can apply to take over the lease and keep the vehicle, or return the vehicle with no fees or penalties incurred.
- Credit card debt: If there is an outstanding balance on a Chase credit card, it will be forgiven. You can apply to keep the credit card if you want, but you’ll have to pass a credit check and have proof of income to do so.
- Student loan: Any outstanding balance on a Chase student loan will be forgiven. This can be a major relief for graduates whose parents or guardians cosigned their loans.
- Other consumer debt: If there was an overdrawn bank account, or a bank account with charged-off balances, these may be forgiven. For those with business accounts, some debt may qualify to be waived, depending on ownership interest in the business.
If you have any of the above debt with Chase and think it might qualify for forgiveness, you can call 1-877-469-0110 to speak with a military customer service specialist. There’s no harm in calling to see what options are available to you, especially if you’ve been struggling to make payments.
Documents Needed to Apply
Chase states you’ll be required to have a Department of Defense Report of Casualty Form (DD 1300), and a copy of the clerk of court court-certified letters of executor, or a similar document showing you have the authority to act on behalf of the borrower’s estate.
Having any loan-related documents may be of help as well, especially if you have an account number to reference.
Who Benefits from the Military Survivor Program?
Spouses, children, and other family members who may have cosigned a loan with a fallen servicemember benefit from having their debt forgiven.
An story on CNNMoney highlights how beneficial the Military Survivor Program is. Rhea Shannon, a 26-year-old, was struggling to pay back $54,000 in student loan debt after she lost her father in her senior year of college. He was on active duty and had cosigned for her student loans.
She wasn’t prepared to pay this amount back on her own; she thought her dad would be there to help. She tried making the $350 monthly payments required, but was struggling. Creditors began calling her for payments.
Her story happened to be noticed by a representative of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), who reached out to Shannon to ask who her lender was. She then connected Shannon with a representative from the Military Survivor Program. Shannon’s entire student loan debt balance was forgiven.
There are many people out there like Shannon who have no idea they qualify for such a program, which is unfortunate as their credit can get ruined in the process of dodging creditors. Shannon is now on the road to repairing her credit and saving money to buy a house.
If you or someone you know has been affected by the passing of a loved one serving in the military, and has loans or debt through Chase, please spread the word so the people who need assistance can receive it.
Watch Out for Tax Implications
While having your debt forgiven can be extremely freeing, you need to watch out for any tax implications caused by the forgiveness. That’s because the amount can be taxable in certain situations.
According to the IRS, “In general, if your debt is canceled, forgiven, or discharged you will receive a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, and must include the canceled amount in gross income unless you meet an exclusion or exception.”
In other words, be sure to keep track of all documentation if your debt is forgiven, and contact your financial or tax advisor to see how getting your debt forgiven will affect your income tax.
Additional Military Survivor Assistance
Don’t have loans or debt through Chase, but still want to know about assistance offered to surviving military families? TAPS.org is a great place to search for resources. The mission of TAPS is to assist families affected by the passing of a loved one in the military, and it has an extensive support network. It also offers scholarships to assist you in the event you or your child is looking to go back to school.
If you’ve been affected and have eligible debt with Chase, give them a call and see if you can get your debt forgiven. There’s no reason to struggle during such a difficult time. Just remember to consult a professional about any tax implications you may face from getting debt forgiven.