The Best Way To Fix A Social Security Overpayment Letter

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Social Security Overpayment letters are becoming more common.

For those who depend on Social Security payments, receiving a Notice of Overpayment is no fun.  These notification letters will often show up after a change in income or family status and generally allege that the Social Security Administration has paid you too much money.  In this letter they offer you a 30 day window to repay the benefits.

This leaves many shaken who count on this income to buy their groceries or some other necessity.   Fortunately, the Administration is often incorrect in their calculations.

However, there is still a process to follow if you receive one of these letters.  Unless otherwise stated, you have three options.

  • Pay the overpayment within 30 days
  • Appeal their determination within 60 days
  • Request a waiver

The option you choose depends on your circumstances.  Personally, I’ve seen too many bad calculations by the Social Security Administration to ever recommend just repaying the amount requested.  In my opinion, an appeal should always be the first step.

Appeal the Overpayment

The first part of the appeal is to forget about the 60 day window.  You should file your appeal within 30 days.  Why?  For those requesting an appeal within 30 days, the overpayment will not have to be recovered until after the case is reviewed.  If you wait the full 60 days, it’s likely the Social Security overpayment recovery process will have already started.  This means that the Social Security benefit will be reduced, or worse, eliminated until the overpayment is collected.

The foundation of a great appeal is to understand why the Social Security Administration believes they overpaid you.  Sadly, it’s not always clear in their letters.  Gaining clarity on the reason behind the alleged overpayment will often take several phone calls or visits to the local Social Security office.  In my experience, I’ve found the Social Security technicians to be a mixed bag.  Some know very little about the program but some have forgotten more than I’ll ever know.    The point is, if you don’t get a clear answer on your first visit, go again!  Eventually, someone will be able to explain it in language that is understandable.

Once you have a clear understanding of the reason behind the overpayment allegation, it’s time to write your letter.  Accompanying this letter should always be the Social Security’s Social Security’s Request for Reconsideration Form 561 form (Form 561) and a copy of the letter you received from the Administration.

If you tell them why they are wrong about your Social Security overpayment, be prepared to back it up with references to their POMS Manual and other rules on the Social Security website.  This part may be complicated.  It’ll probably be worth your time to find an attorney or hourly financial planner who is knowledgeable about Social Security.

See my article about finding a Social Security Expert

Once you’ve sent your letter in, expect to wait for at least 4 weeks to receive a response.  In this response they will either:

  1. Agree with your appeal
  2. Request more information
  3. Disagree with your appeal

If they disagree with your appeal, and you still think you are right, it may be time to escalate the issue.  For this, I strongly suggest you find an attorney who can help.  Read more about this escalation process on the Social Security’s website section dealing with requesting a hearing.

If they disagree with your appeal and now you’re pretty sure that you were overpaid, you still have a few options.

Request a Waiver of Overpayment

The first option should probably be to request a waiver from the Social Security Administration.    This would waive or simply “write off” the overpayment.  To have a waiver approved, you must meet two conditions.

First, you have to convince SSA that the overpayment was not your fault. That would be easy to do in a situation where the government miscalculated your benefit.  That’s obviously Administration’s fault, not yours. But if you were overpaid because you failed to report some event that should have changed your benefit amount or even altered your basic eligibility for benefits, then you’ll have a hard time claiming it’s not your fault.

Even if the Social Security overpayment was not your fault, you must also prove to SSA that repaying the debt would create a financial hardship for you and your family. To do this, you have to provide SSA with records of your income and your expenses. This could include wage statements or tax returns and rent receipts, mortgage statements, utility bills, grocery receipts, etc. A Social Security representative will review your household budget and decide if the overpayment waiver can be granted.

If the Social Security Administration ultimately declines your request for waiver, the only option remaining is to pay the money back.  However, you do not have to pay it all back at once.  You can ask them to withhold a certain amount from your monthly Social Security checks until the overpayment is recovered.  If you do nothing, they’ll simply stop your check until the balance is recovered.

The key points to remember are:

  • Sometimes the Social Security Administration is wrong. Challenge them!
  • Expect the appeal process to take several weeks.
  • File your appeal within 30 days.
  • Don’t be embarrassed to request a waiver.
  • If you must pay it back, set up your own payment terms.

Have you ever had an experience with a Social Security overpayment letter?

Questions?

If you still have questions, you could leave a comment below, but what may be an even greater help is to join my FREE Facebook members group. It’s very active and has some really smart people who love to answer any questions you may have about Social Security. From time to time I’ll even drop in to add my thoughts, too. Also…if you haven’t already, you should join the 200,000+ subscribers on my YouTube channel!

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Kimberly Lambright
Kimberly Lambright
8 months ago

I received an overpayment letter from Social Security for 9,815.00. I started back to work with the program ticket to work. Now I am told this last 10 months I have been over paid and should not of received any benefits from Social security because of being over the 1200.00 allotted monthly allowance. I am beyond stressed out. I work for a public elementary school as a paraprofessional. I get paid 8 1/2 months out of the year. I make between 1,300-1,600 a month at the school. I guess my question is what are my options? Living paycheck to paycheck.… Read more »

Steve persaud
Steve persaud
9 months ago

I received from SSA overpayment notice on 2/13/2016, the letter stated that we plan to reduce my monthly payments to $564.00 because I received information from workers compensation from 11/2003 to 9/13/2011, at rate per week $400.00. Second Overpaid letter dated March 23,2016, letter stated that we paid you $58,406.00 for 11/2003 to 2/2016. since we should have paid you $40,539.00 we paid you $17,867 more then you due. On 11/27/2017 I received from NY Social Security manager Ms Clark who provided me with copies of my SSA-1099 Benefits Statements From 2003 to 2011 showing total benefits is $116,000.00 and… Read more »

stephanie Thomas
stephanie Thomas
9 months ago

I have been trying ti contact the social security office so that I can set up payment arrangements to pay back the $1600 i was overpaid, however, when we moved 2 years ago I was told that addresses for myself, my daughter and my son had all been updated in your systems and in reality, my daughters address was the only one you updated. so over the past 2 years any correspondence sent to my old address did NOT reach me. Since I became aware of it I have been trying to contact someone to explain how it was determined… Read more »

lance montini
lance montini
10 months ago

Ok I need some help here. I have been getting ssi since I was 13, I am 37 now. I have always stayed/ loved with some one and paired 1/3 of my check bought my own food. Like rented a room mostly off of fam. So this time its me my mother and ain’t I got talked into paying all the house bills out of my checking account. So I took my mother’s 1/3 my aunts 1/3 and put it in my bank. My ssi check dropped on and pushed me 28$ over 2000$ (wow) so I payed all the… Read more »

Stacy
Stacy
10 months ago

Of I summit a request to waive overpayment will they tempararaly stop collection by IRS tax refund offset?

Justin Milledge
Justin Milledge
10 months ago

I been getting SSDI since 2013 I was on renal dialysis for 4 years I recently had a kidney transplant in 3017 the benefits I was getting was pay all my finances I started working and and went over the threshold that I was not aware about so I get a letter stating that my benefits are going to end I appeal stating that I don’t agree my question will SS give me an opportunity to pay the overpayment back before the cut my entire benefits

Virginia L Wall
Virginia L Wall
11 months ago

How long does it take for a payment to Social Security, to clear from my bank? I was told I can make payments on the overpayment that is due. I sent the first payment to Philadelphia, PA. near the end of Sept. and today, Oct 21st.I get a 2nd notice that they have not received any payment!!!

JSF
JSF
11 months ago

Addendum to my previous comment: I forgot to add that this is the second time in 3 years this exact same situation happened, almost to the letter. The delay was cause due to red tape between the payee and the case manager. The payee receives a copy of the same correspondence I do which showed the y could stop the repayment situation by contacting Social Security. This was their responsibility to do as they are the payee and parties involved for not releasing the monthly rent and expense money for three full months and allowing the funds to grow over… Read more »

JSF
JSF
11 months ago

I have a unique situation and need advise asap. I am the legal guardian of a 30 year old mentally disabled woman. She is my adopted niece and has lived with me since may 2015. The state of Missouri became her payee when she lived in an independent living situation prior to living with me and have remained so afterwards. They forward money to me for my niece’s rent and living expenses each month. For reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained to me they retained a portion of the SSI monthly benefit and have sent me only $703 a… Read more »

SallyAnn Bagnoli Pellegrino

Hi, I did go back to work on their ticket back to work, program I reported everything on the phone was told by my doctor that I couldn’t work any longer, that was back in Nov. 2018. I collected provisional payments, for 6 months, got a letter that my disability was continuing, then I recieved a letter of an overpayment. Dwelt with the National 800 line for Social Security got the run around, no one sees the letter saying my disability will continue, they see the over payment letter, no one sees the disability letter stating that my disability will… Read more »

Terry
Terry
11 months ago

After reading through the comments, I think I have been lucky with my overpayment experience. I did make too much money and actually did owe the overpayments. I am still raising my three grandsons and need all of my income and my benefits to get by. I filed a bankruptcy in March this year and received my first letter in May so I could not include my overpayment in my bankruptcy. SS took 2/3 of my June benefits in July to pay back the overpayment. At least I had a little time to prepare. However, I received another letter end… Read more »

Selena
Selena
1 year ago

reading throught the comments. Im Screws. they dont care on bit what i put in the paper work , fault or no fault.

Colleen
Colleen
1 year ago

I just received a letter saying that they overpaid paid me by $57,000. I have filed a waiver
I am gathering all my monthly bills and income showing the hardship that it would cause if they were to withhold my benefits. I have been on ssdi since 2011 due to an automobile accident .
To say I’m scared is an understatement.

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

I just received my second notice letter from Social Security saying I was overpaid $6,600 or so stating that I was over the $2,ooo monthly limit. I was told by my county finance worker at Human Services that if I was under the 2,000 dollar limit at the time that the funds were issued at that time of the month that I would be ok. And social security also claimed that I was over the limit when I first filed my claim for dsi/ssi. And as you know, we have to provide all bank records of our checking/ savings accounts… Read more »

rhondalynn71
rhondalynn71
1 year ago

I’m sorry more explaining from earlier statement when social security did this they also went back to 2014 and said i owed a over payment and did this all they way to present but what is crazy is i was paying a overpayment in the actualy months and years and then they make me come back and repay it and i win my apeal for second time i won a reconsideration and they realized there is no way i could have owe a overpayment i was on section 8 at the time and food assistance , thats housing and when… Read more »

rhondalynn71
rhondalynn71
1 year ago

i have been on sis since 2003 and in 2017 i was approved for ssdi and they old me back pay, when they paid me they then started saying i owed big amounts of made up back pay 10,644 and they kept almost a year of ssi payment and then to 75$ to 100$ for the next two years i kept appealing and winning and they finally waved it but they haven’t paid it back and they never took off the money off the balance when they would take money every month also they took over 4000$ they owed me… Read more »

Carol
Carol
1 year ago

I was on SS disability in 2002 I just received a letter stating I was overpaid and owe approx. $15,000 I called immediately and requested a waiver, it’s been 17 years and they claim they could not find me, within that 17 years I lived at the same address I had a bankruptcy in 2012 if I would have know about the over-payment that could have been include in my bankruptcy, they never put a judgement against me nor did they report it to any of the credit bureaus, I went to speak to someone at SS who could not… Read more »

Ayana
Ayana
1 year ago

I have. Been tooken advantage from someone i trusted due to me getting out of foster care they was family and i thought they actually was taking care of they end when they was my pay then years later i became my payee because i was doing better at budgeting but they coming for me for what she didn’t do and now i have a baby on the way and a 1 year old but they took my taxes and i can’t work due to health problems with my pregnancy i hope they take it consideration to understand it wasn’t… Read more »

Victor
Victor
1 year ago

My social security nightmare, after being denied Social Security at 63 when I had a triple Bi-Pass. I got an attorney and won my appeal. I received 32,000 dollars in back payment after waiting three years, 1 month later Social Security sent me a later I owed 14,000 dollars. So 32,000 minus 14,000 is 18,00. Now payments of 1,273 a month equal 15,000. I get my 1099 stating they deposited 52,000 dollar into my bank. 18,000 plus 15,000 does not come up to 52,00. I have been pay back 250.00 dollars a month on that over payment. The question is,… Read more »

Lex McGuire
Lex McGuire
1 year ago

Social security changed the rules of when you receive benefits – from the month before to the month following your retirement. Without notice they stopped my direct deposit of benefits for two months. During those to months my family was in panic and hungry mode and I was contemplating suicide. Working on the computer and phone every day I only accomplished in getting 2 lies from social security 1. that there was an address mistake and 2. that that there was an address mistake. Then finally I received a letter on January 29th 2019 (60 days after stopping my direct… Read more »

Donna Dillon
Donna Dillon
1 year ago

I’ve been fighting this for two years !! There system says I was overpaid ‘ NEVER was ! When I’d sent in a waiver back in 2017 on a hardship they paid me and said it was a overpayment! Was NOT I hv auto deposit nothing ever changed SO I hv to pay money back I don’t owe !! There unbelievable and don’t care!! I filled out paperwork said they never got it ! WOW it’s been crazy horrible !!! So I hv to pay back money I do NOT owe!!!

Gale Morris
Gale Morris
1 year ago

It all started in 2011 and now notified in 2018.

Gale Morris
Gale Morris
1 year ago

My husband receives a “State Pension” When he applied for SS he checked the wrong box and stated that he did not receive a pension. This was not intentional. Now we owe approx. $59000 back payments What will they do to us. He just thought he would be entitled and never read the paperwork verifying his answers. He was just naïve. We would never do anything illegal. Please help

Gerardo
Gerardo
1 year ago

I’m going through the process now. I was over paid due to me starting to work. I had no choice. I have kids and we cannot live off $800. So I started working at minimum wage. I went in to the social security office and told them I was working and if they can stop my checks. They told me they would note that I came in for that reason and said to fill out some forms and mail them in. Obviously I didn’t turn them in. I then called the office months later and they said they would again… Read more »

Trenessa
Trenessa
1 year ago

I applied for a waiver. I stated that I paid my fair share and the person I was living with also wrote a verification letter to show proof that I paid it. I didnt have the correct information and somethings were not reported about my living situation before the overpayment was issued.

issac scales
issac scales
1 year ago

i got a letter from social security saying i was over paid benifits which no fault of mine . i had a payee at the time and i was in prison so how could i be at fault. i been trying over and over to contect the office by phone no luck and to ask for a waiver how can i set appointment ‘and get a waiver

Tami
Tami
2 years ago

I am terrified since moving to a new town I got the notification letter. I appealed imminently but was denied now have to request a Judge review. I cannot believe they are doing this to me I was recently assaulted I care for my Daughter who is Down Syndrome & we are forced to live below the poverty line, yet they are after the little money we have!

Cheri
Cheri
2 years ago

I am so worried. I got two letters. One for my ssdi and one as my minor kids Payee. It said we were both overpaid. I went in with the waiver and appeal forms. Gave them to lady at the ss office within days of getting them. I just got my kids check and it was cut in half. They took my total check. I never even got a response from them. What do I do? This is my only means of income.

Gem
Gem
2 years ago

I had to appeal to have resource for my family and I to make ends meet. I was in and out of the hospital while recovering after transplant and was told from social security that I may have to repay it back. I had to appeal as it was the only income I had. I have no set of income at this moment. I get sick now and then. I was recently sick and recovering from it. What is the chance of social security waiving overpayment?

Lisa G
Lisa G
2 years ago

Yes I have submitted RFR forms & have not heard back more than once. I sent one in June & still havent gotten a response, so frustrating.

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