Equity and Good Conscience - Overpayment

If you are trying to ask the Social Security Administration to waive an overpayment amount, you must first satisfy a basic two prong test:

  1. The Beneficiary must be without fault, AND The Beneficiary must be unable to afford to repay without risking the ability to provide for basic needs, OR
  2. Recovery of the overpayments would be "Against equity and good conscience".

When assessing whether an overpayment would be "against equity and good conscience",  the SSA is supposed to consider all the facts and circumstances. Interestingly, the amount of money you currently have is not one of the factors that are considered. See POMS 02250.240B.3. In general, though, recovery of an overpayment is against equity and good conscience when you relinquish a valuable right or change your situation for the worse because you were relying on the benefits.

Here is an example given by SSA of a situation where the SSA would not collect an overpayment because it would be "against equity and good conscience."

"A widow, relying on her benefits, enrolled her daughter in college. It was discovered a year later that the deceased worker was not insured and the widow's entitlement to benefits was erroneous. She has no other funds with which to pay her daughter's college expenses. By entering her daughter in college, the widow incurred a financial obligation toward which the benefits had been applied and, thus, was in a worse position financially than if she had never been entitled to benefits. Recovery would be against equity and good conscience."See POMS 02250.150

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