You applied for Social Security disability benefits. After many months of reviews and appeals you finally received notice that your application is approved. The money allows you to get you life back on track and even make some purchases that would otherwise not have been possible. Then the Administration sends you a Social Security overpayment notice telling you that you have been paid too much and that you have thirty days to repay the excess. There is no way that you will be able to repay the money within thirty days! Your question now is “What can I do?”
If you receive one of these letters, don’t panic! And do not just put it aside and think that you can deal with it later. Read the letter carefully. There should be an explanation of how the Social Security overpayment was determined. More importantly, you will see that you have a right to appeal the decision and that you have only 10 days from the day that you received the decision to notify the SSA that you are appealing the decision.
Should You Bother With an Appeal?
In most cases the answer to this question is yes, even if the explanation that the SSA includes in the letter seems to be correct. By filing an appeal, you gain time to carefully review the issues and to get legal advice as to your rights. Ten days is not much time so you will need to act quickly. If an attorney represented you when you filed your application for disability, you should contact that attorney immediately. Don’t just call for an appointment. Be sure to leave a message that explains that you received a notice of overpayment and the date that you received the notice. The attorneys at the offices of Roose & Ressler understand the time limits for this type of case and will be able to react quickly to protect your position.
Filing for an appeal does more than just give you time to repay the money. You will have the right to question the decision that you were overpaid. The SSA admits that the initial determination of your benefits was incorrect. It is possible that they also were incorrect in determining that you were overpaid.
Reasons for a Social Security Overpayment
The SSA may be correct. You may have actually been overpaid. Whether you have been receiving Social Security disability benefits based on your participation in the Social Security insurance program or Supplemental Security Income based on your limited income and resources, there are a number of reasons for overpayments including the following:
- When you filed your application, you may have overestimated the amount that you were earning prior to your disability.
- When you filed for disability, you may have been living on your own and have since moved back with your parents or your living situation may have otherwise changed.
- You may have either recently married or divorced and did not notify the SSA of your change in marital status.
- Either you misstated the value of your resources at the time of your application, or your resources have since increased to the point that they exceed the limit allowable.
- You are no longer disabled according the Social Security Administration’s definition but have continued to receive benefits.
- The Social Security Administration made a mistake in figuring the amount of money that you were entitled to, the date that your disability began, or in determining that you are actually entitled to benefits.
Options If You Were Overpaid
If you were actually overpaid, you still have some relief available:
- You can ask that the repayment be waived.
- In order to receive a waiver, you will need to show, not only that the overpayment was not your fault, but you will also need to establish that you are not able to repay the money because doing so will make it impossible for you pay your ordinary living expenses.
- You may negotiate an agreement that the amount that you are obligated to repay is something less than the amount originally determined by the SSA.
- If you are currently receiving SSA benefits, up to 10% of your benefit will be applied to the overpayment until it is paid. You or your representative may be able to argue that 10% will be a hardship and persuade the SSA to accept a lesser amount.
- If you are not currently receiving benefits, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan that considers your current financial status.
Your ability to obtain a waiver of repayment, a reduction in the amount of repayment required, or to negotiate an acceptable repayment plan depends on the presentation of arguments acceptable to the SSA. An attorney who is experienced in dealing with the Social Security Administration will know what information needs to be presented in order for you to obtain a favorable outcome.
If You Have a Received a Social Security Overpayment Notice
When Social Security sends you an overpayment notice, call Roose & Ressler. Our experienced attorneys have helped many people successfully deal with demands for repayment and will be able to help you obtain an acceptable outcome for your case.