Social Security Overpayment
Authored By: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida
Should I Appeal the Notice of Overpayment?
If you are notfied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that they have overpaid you benefits, you have rights. If you believe the SSA is wrong and they have not overpaid you, or the amount they are claiming they overpaid you is wrong, you must file a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of the Notice of Overpayment to protect your appeal. The Request for Reconsideration form is available at your local SSA office or on-line at www.ssa.gov.
If your Notice of Overpayment did not show how the overpayment was calculated, you should request an itemized statement. This will allow you to verify how the SSA calculated your overpayment. You may wish to consult with an attorney to determine whether the overpayment is correct and assess your legal options. If you do not file an appeal in time, you lose your right to object to the alleged overpayment.
Should I file a Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery?
SSA has a process where it can decide to not collect on an overpayment. To qualify for this waiver, you must show 1) that you were not at fault in causing the overpayment and 2) that if you were required to repay the overpayment it would cause you financial hardship which would defeat the purposes of the program.
If you believe the overpayment is calculated correctly but you were not at fault in causing the overpayment and cannot afford to pay it back without enduring financial hardship, you should file a Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery. This form is also available at your local SSA office or on-line at www.ssa.gov.
What does SSA mean by “at fault in creating the overpayment?”
You would be considered at fault and not eligible for a waiver if you failed to timely report earnings or assets to SSA. Examples of not being at fault:
- You report the income to SSA within a short time (30 days) but SSA did not put the information properly into your case.
- You were not aware of the income or asset (a long lost relative left you property in a will).
- You had a Representative Payee appointed for you and your Representative Payee failed to report income or assets. Be advised that while you would be considered not at fault, SSA may go after the representative Payee for reimbursement.
What does SSA mean by “financial hardship?”
SSA will consider it a financial hardship if after your necessary monthly expenses you will not have sufficient money left over to make a payment toward the overpayment each month. The necessary monthly expenses considered by SSA include rent/mortgage, utilities, food, car payments, gas, insurance, taxes, credit card bills—minimum monthly payments only, as well as some other expenses. Luxury items will not be considered, such as timeshare payments.
When must waiver be filed?
You may file a Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery at any time. There is no 60 day limit for this request. You are also not limited in how many you file. This means that if SSA turns you down and your financial situation worsens, you may file a new request based upon your current situation.
What if I am at fault or can pay back some of the overpayment but not all?
You can also agree to enter into a repayment plan with SSA where you pay back a small amount each month out of your monthly benefits until the overpayment is paid in full. If you are an SSI recipient, this amount can be as low as $10 per month.
Should I get legal representation to help me with an overpayment?
You should at least get legal advice. Your local legal aid program and likely review your papers and advise you on the best course of action and even assist you in preparing your documents if you need help. If your case has merit, they may undertake representation.
Updated: May 9, 2017