The Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps track of your benefits payments to make sure you get the right amount. If you get a “Notice of Overpayment,” it means that the SSA thinks that you got more than you should have, and it wants that money back. Do NOT ignore this notice.
If you don’t think you have been overpaid, or if you think you should not have to pay the money back, you have the right to appeal. For more information about SSA appeals, see the next section of this chapter.
Call the Legal Services for the Elderly Helpline at 1-800-750-5353 as soon as you get a Notice of Overpayment; you can speak to an attorney for free.
Do not wait to take action. If you miss the appeal deadline, the overpayment becomes final and then you have very few options. If you do nothing, the SSA has many ways in which it can get the money back from you. This includes withholding your entire monthly payment until your debt is repaid.
Even if you agree with the SSA’s decision but you can’t afford to repay the money, you should talk to an attorney about your options. You might be able to work out a repayment plan, or get a waiver of the overpayment. If you request a waiver of the overpayment, you will need to prove two things:
- That you were not at fault for causing the overpayment; and,
- That you cannot afford to repay the money.
To prove these two things, you will need to give the SSA detailed information about your finances. (People who receive Supplemental Security Income do not have to provide this information.)
Anyone can request a waiver of the overpayment, and you can make this request any time after you get a Notice of Overpayment. There is no time limit within which you have to do this. If you would like help requesting a waiver or asking for a repayment plan, call the Legal Services for the Elderly Helpline at 1-800-750-5353 to speak to an attorney for free.