At times, the government will make a mistake and issue an overpayment to a Social Social Security Beneficiary. An overpayment is essentially when the government issues a check for more money than it should have paid. The amount of your overpayment is the difference between the amount you received and the amount you should have been paid.
How Overpayments Happen
There are a number of ways this could happen. Some of the most common circumstances that lead to the government making this kind of mistake include the following:
- The government fails to record the changes you gave to them regarding your income or resources
- Your income is actually more than you estimated or reported.
- Your living situation changed. For example, you might have gotten married or you might have received money from a lawsuit that causes you to exceed the amount of income or resources allowed by the government.
What will the government do if there is an overpayment
Usually the government will give you a notice in the mail asking for a full refund within 30 days. If you are like most people and cannot make the full refund, then the government will recoup the benefits from your future monthly checks.
This can cause serious problems because many times, people who are receiving disability, are on a fixed income. Any amount of reduction can be extremely difficult on the family.
What can you do if you get a notice of an overpayment?
There are three basic approaches to dealing with an overpayment. You can ask for a waiver, ask for a reduced repayment plan, or accept an offer to reduced the total amount of 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:
- 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
- Recovery of the overpayments would be "Against equity and good conscience".
As a side note, if you are actually in possession of the overpaid funds, then SSA will automatically recoup these funds to reduce the outstanding balance.
When you are required to repay the overpayment, there are repayment options. If you are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the government will generally recoup 10% of your check until the overpayment is ultimately repaid. However, it is important to note that if the overpayment was caused by fraud or concealed information, Social Security may recoup up to 100% of your monthly benefit until the overpayment is ultimately repaid. If you are on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the government may take up to 100% of your monthly benefit until the overpayment is ultimately repaid.
These percentages are not fixed. In most cases, you can negotiate a repayment plan with the government so that they take only a portion of your disability check. The Social Security Administration will consider a reduced repayment plan if you are using substantially all of your monthly income to meet "ordinary and necessary living expenses." These expenses include things like your house note or rent, utilities, and medical expenses.
Offer to reduce the total amount
Finally, the government will sometimes accept an offer to reduce the total amount. Generally you must show that the cost of collecting the money is greater than the amount that is to be reduced. The government might also accept an offer to reduce the total amount of overpayment if there is a genuine legal or factual dispute regarding Social Security’s overpayment case that might not hold up in court.
How to get started
The form you will use is the Request For Waiver Of Overpayment Recovery Or Change In Repayment Rate (SSA–632). This form will allow you to explain your financial situation and why you believe you should not have to repay the overpayment or why the monthly recoupment should be lowered.
Also, we understand that every case is unique and we are glad to meet with you to discuss your options. We do not charge a fee unless you win and we are right here in San Antonio, right here for you. Call us today at 210-340-8877!
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