What is an Overpayment?
Overpayments occur when Social Security determines that a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiary has received more in benefits than they should have. The most common cause for an overpayment is when the person receiving benefits goes to work and either fails to report it, or the report isn’t documented by Social Security.
What Happens Next?
When a person gets an overpayment notice, the notice will typically state why the person has been overpaid, how much they owe, and the time frame for the overpayment. Usually the overpayment will be repaid by withholding benefits until the overpayment is recovered. The client will be notified roughly 60 days before the withholding starts that Social Security plans to start withholding. In Social Security Disability cases, SSA can withhold the entire benefit until the amount of the overpayment is recovered. In Supplemental Security Income cases, SSA cannot withhold more than 10% of the total SSI check.
If the Client Agrees but Repayment is a Hardship
If the client agrees that there is an overpayment but the withholding of their benefits will be a financial hardship, they can request that a lower amount be withheld. In SSI cases, the fact that the client receives SSI is proof that the withholding of benefits would be a hardship and the client can arrange to have less than 10% withheld. In SSD cases, Social Security will ask for proof of other income and expenses in order to work out a lower repayment agreement.
If the Client Doesn’t Agree
If the client doesn’t agree with the overpayment and needs to appeal, they have a few options. The first is to request a reconsideration. The reconsideration states that the client doesn’t feel like the overpayment is correct. The client has 60 days from the date on the letter to request this appeal. SSA assumes that the letter is received within five days of mailing. The second option is to request a waiver. The waiver states that although the person may have been overpaid, they are at fault in causing the overpayment and cannot afford to pay it back. There’s no time limit to file the waiver and can be filed at any time even if the overpayment has started to be recouped.
Making the Case for an Appeal
It’s recommended that a wage report be done in person at a local office. Wages can be reported by phone and mail, but in many instances, reports that are done this way are less likely to be documented correctly. Social Security is supposed to give the person a receipt when they report wages. This is the person’s proof that they reported. If they are not given a receipt, they should ask for one. They should also make note of the date and time they reported and the name of the representative they spoke with. Saving copies of any correspondence that is received by Social Security is also recommended. If reporting by mail, the client should send it certified. That way they can prove that they reported the wages timely.
If a Client Needs to Appeal
The agency that can assist with appeals of overpayments is the Virginia Department of Protection and Advocacy. They can be reached at 804-225-2042 or 1-800-552-3962. If a client is receiving VR services, they may also be eligible to receive assistance from a Work Incentives Specialist Advocate (WISA) and should discuss this with their VR counselor.
This article was contributed by Michael Klinger, Work Incentives Specialist for the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services. For more information or any other benefits related questions, contact Michael Klinger at 434-298-7652 or Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org