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Social Security and Overpayment

Authored By: Colorado Legal Services

FAQ

What can I do if the Social Security Administration (SSA) claims I was paid too much in Social Security or Supplemental Security Income? +

First, you can appeal an overpayment notice if you think that you were not overpaid, or if you think that the amount of overpayment that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is claiming is incorrect. Appeals must be received by your local SSA office (not just put in the mail) within 60 days of the date you received the overpayment notice. SSA will presume that you received the notice five days from the date on the notice. In other words, the appeal must be in SSA's hands within 65 days of the date on the notice.

The only safe way to file an appeal is in person, using the official Social Security form, and asking for a copy showing the filing date. Although you have 60 days to file the appeal, if you appeal within 30 days you can ask that no immediate action be taken to recover the overpayment. You should write this request on the form.

Second, you can request that repayment of the overpayment be "waived." This means that, whether or not you agree that you were overpaid, you do not think that you should have to repay. You may file a request for a waiver at any time. You may also appeal and request a waiver at the same time. When you file a waiver you can ask that no immediate action be taken to collect the overpayment.

To qualify for a waiver, you must show the following:

  • You were not at fault in creating the overpayment (for example,you reported to SSA any changes you are required to report), and
  • Either you cannot afford to repay the overpayment, or repayment would be unfair for some other reason.

A waiver request must be submitted on an official form, available at local SSA offices or online (click here). If you are not receiving benefits from a program for low income persons, such as SSI, SSA will ask for documentation of your income and expenses. Overpayments of $500 or less are often waived by the local SSA workers without a formal request. Both a denial of a Request for Waiver and a decision by Social Security that you were overpaid can be appealed.

How will an overpayment be collected? +

Overpayments are most commonly collected by reducing the overpaid person's ongoing benefits. If you are receiving SSI, the reduction is limited to 10% of your total income, even if SSI is not your only source of income.

Social Security and SSI overpayments may be discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcies. However, if the Social Security Administration (SSA) believes the overpayment was obtained by fraud, SSA may file an objection to a discharge of the debt.

Finally, you may request that recovery of the overpayment be reduced to a payment you can afford. Although granting such a request is optional, most local offices will try to limit recovery to a reasonable percentage of your ongoing benefits.

 

This communication is made available by Colorado Legal Services, Inc., (CLS), as a public service and is issued to inform not to advise. No person should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney. The opinions expressed in this communication are those of the authors and not those of CLS or its funding sources.

Last Review and Update: Feb 13, 2018