Aug 7, 2016
Attending Physician
Hi all, it's nice to be here in good company. I became an attending physician about 4 weeks ago and made my first loan payment about 3 days ago. Looked again the other day at what's become of my wife's loans, sitting there for the past several years at 7.5%, and panic struck.

There's a whole story but I'll keep it at first to a specific question:

I was foolish and filed our taxes jointly last year, since from a taxation standpoint it made a whole lot of sense (I moonlit like an insane person and she did none of it during our last year of fellowship). I'm simply paying off my own debt aggressively over 4-5 years, but hers is another story and she's been paying via IBR for the past 5 years. She'll stay on IBR for the next 5, after which PSLF will hopefully work out for us - otherwise I fear she's staying on IBR for the next 20(!!). The standard payments would be a real hardship, although the extended term option would be I suppose reasonable but less than ideal should the IBR thing not work out.

This being our first year of both making substantially more money, we will really benefit from filing separately for 2016 and onward as it relates to her IBR payments. Taking both of our salaries into account would be crushing, especially in combination with my own loan payments. My big (hopefully irrational) fear is that I'll be disallowed from having the IBR payments calculated on the basis of separately filed returns, since I made the mistake this past year of filing jointly...

Has anyone successfully filed jointly and later gone back to filing separately, with a corresponding decrease in their IBR payments?

Thanks in advance for anyone who can help me to stop worrying about this.