Friday, October 28, 2011

The Social Security Office will often give you wrong advice - including Overpayments

"My husband had been on disability for six years when we were informed that he was no longer disabled and would no longer be receiving checks. As this was not the case we filed for the request for reconsideration. During the time that his disability was being reconsidered we requested that his payments continue as this was our only source of income, and we had just had a baby. they continued his checks. A few months later i noticed that his monthly deposit was five times what it normally was. Apparently, they had decided in his favor and considered him still disabled. I immediately called social security to tell them that he had received an overpayment, over the next three months i spoke with four different people who kept telling me that the money was due to him and to go ahead a spend it. We had not touched a penny during the three months. Finally, things got extremely tight(i no longer had any of my savings left to pay the bills that his SSDI didn't cover and i had to dip into the money that i considered the overpayment. Two days later i received a letter in the mail from SSDI that they had overpaid us and that we had thirty days to pay back. I believe that at one point, during one of the conversations, that someone from SSDI told me that they had 30 days to decide if there was an overpayment, if it was reported. Do you know anything about the time frame that they have to decide once a payee has requested they look into a payment? Thank you."

Overpayments happen for a variety of reasons and sometimes the disability beneficiary is not at fault. However, even if the disability beneficiary is not at fault they still may have to repay their overpayment if they are financially able.

In order to have an overpayment waived the disability beneficiary or their representative must not be at fault in creating the overpayment and they must not be able to repay the overpayment. While your husband was not at fault in creating the overpayment, he or you were aware that he was overpaid. For this reason, it may be that it is unlikely that your husband’s overpayment can be waived, because your husband or you as his representative payee were aware that he was overpaid and you spent the money (though you were certainly in a tight spot and this is understandable).

Fortunately, Social Security is very flexible on repayment of overpayments. While they want most overpayments to be repaid in a thirty-six month period, they will allow a longer period if repaying in the thirty-six month time frame would cause undue financial hardship.

I am not sure about the thirty-day time frame you heard about. Social Security can start full withholding of your husband’s disability check thirty days after the notice of overpayment. If you do not want full withholding to begin, you should make a payment arrangement of some amount monthly to be deducted from your husband’s disability benefit to prevent total withholding.

If you do not believe you are at a fault in the overpayment you can request a waiver of the overpayment. Social Security will withhold collection until the waiver is decided. If the waiver is a denial, full withholding collection of the overpayment will begin unless you make a payment arrangement, even if you decide to appeal the overpayment to an administrative law judge.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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