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Unfortunately, many disability beneficiaries experience overpayments. The most common overpayment occurs when the beneficiary does not report earnings to the Social Security Administration. That does not go without saying that the Administration also makes errors in computing monthly payments and processing reported earnings.
If you have been overpaid disability benefits, the Administration will notify you in writing. This notice will explain how and when the overpayment occurred. In some instances, the overpayment may be several years old and/or be extended over a long period of time. In either case, the next step will be dependent upon how the overpayment occurred.
If you wish to challenge the fact that the overpayment has occurred or the amount of the overpayment, you should file a request for reconsideration. The request for reconsideration is most commonly used when impairment-related work expenses or subsidies are not properly applied by the Administration and in order to correct wage information. This should be filed within 60 days of your overpayment notice. You may also choose to submit a letter challenging the amount or existence of the overpayment. Once you have requested a reconsideration, all recoupment efforts will stop. The Administration is not to seek repayment until a final decision is made. If your request is denied, you will have a right to a hearing with the Administration.
If you agree with the overpayment but do not feel that you should have to repay the Administration, you should file a waiver of overpayment recoupment. There is no 60 day limitation when filing this waiver and it can also be filed along with the request for reconsideration. In order to file this waiver, you must be without fault and unable to afford to repay the overpayment without risking the ability to provide for basic needs or the recovery of the overpayment would be against equity and good conscience, meaning that you relinquished a valuable right relying on the overpayment. Recoupment by the Administration will generally stop when you file the waiver as well until a decision is made.
So, how would you be at fault? The regulations state that you will be considered at fault if one of the following applies;
The Administration, when determining fault, will also take into consideration your disability, age, education and comprehension of reporting requirements. And keep in mind, others may be held liable other than the beneficiary such as an eligible spouse, a payee, etc.
If you are an SSI beneficiary, you are assumed to be unable to repay an overpayment in most instances and if the overpayment is $1000 or less and a waiver or appeal was filed, SSA can waive the overpayment as collection is assumed to impede efficient administration of the program. SSA may also waive an overpayment if the cause was due to excess resources of $50 or less.
In the event that you must reimburse the Administration as an SSI recipient, the reimbursement will generally be 10% or less of your monthly income. If you are an SSDI recipient, there is no 10% cap and could be as much as 100% but you may ask for a lower rate due to hardship. Keep in mind, regardless of program you receive payment from, 100% of your past-due benefits may be recouped. Also, if you are found to have willfully misrepresented information to the Administration there will be no 10% recovery limit if you receive payments from both the SSI and SSDI programs.
The best way to avoid overpayments is disclosing all information honestly and timely to Social Security. Be certain to keep receipts and be detailed in your documentations. And if you feel that you’ve received more money than you are owed, notify the Administration immediately prior to using the money.
If you have concerns about being overpaid or wish to learn more about your options, those that may be liable for overpayments, and other ways the administration may be able to recoup payment, please contact our office at 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted by a member of our staff, fill out this online form.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law