If you are receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), you may receive notice from SSA that you have been paid too much. An overpayment of disability benefits can happen for a variety of reasons, such as clerical errors by SSA or your own failure to report income to the SSA that might affect the amount of your monthly benefits.
In this case, you must decide whether you wish to fight the overpayment claim or to simply repay the benefits that you have been overpaid.
Requirements to Refund Payments
If the SSA claims that you have been overpaid, the SSA will automatically recoup its overpayment, or pay itself back. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the SSA will withhold 10% of your monthly check until the overpayment is repaid.
On the other hand, if you receive regular Social Security disability benefits, the SSA will withhold your entire monthly disability check until the overpayment is repaid. SSA will not start making these deductions from your monthly checks until sixty (60) days after you have received notice of the overpayment.
If you no longer receive disability benefits from SSA, you will have to pay back the overpaid benefits, either in a lump sum or according to a payment plan.
Responding to Notices
If the SSA is claiming that you have been overpaid, you will receive a notice stating the reason for and the amount of any claimed overpayment. No matter whether you wish to fight the overpayment, repay the overpayment, or ask for a waiver of the overpayment, you should act as quickly as possible in responding to the overpayment notice.
Time Limit to Dispute
If you choose to fight the overpayment claim by appealing the SSA’s determination of overpayment, then you must file the appropriate form for an appeal with SSA within sixty (60) days, or you lose your right to appeal. Therefore, it is essential that you not only respond to a notice of overpayment from the SSA, but that you do so as quickly as possible.
Fighting the Claim
If you receive an overpayment notice from SSA, you have two options to fight the overpayment claim.
Dispute the Claim
First, if you disagree with the claimed overpayment, you can appeal the overpayment claim within sixty (60) days of the notice, and submit information as to why you are not overpaid and/or why the amount of the overpayment is not correct.
Second, you may also ask to have the overpayment forgiven. If you did not intentionally cause the overpayment, and you cannot afford to repay the overpayment, the SSA may decide to forgive your overpayment. Even if the SSA does not agree to forgive your overpayment, you ask for a personal conference with a SSA representative in order to reconsider your waiver request. If SSA still denies your waiver request, you can file an appeal.
Read our article on negotiating a refund for an overpayment.
Getting Legal Defense
If SSA is claiming that you were overpaid, you amy want to consult an attorney to assist you with appealing and/or requesting a waiver of any overpayment. An attorney experienced in disability law will be able to help you determine the cause and the correct amount of any overpayment by SSA. An attorney can also advise you as to the best course of action in terms of responding to any overpayment. Consult a disablity attorney here.