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Coping With SSI and Social Security Overpayments

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama


If Social Security thinks you have gotten too much money in your social security or SSI check, they will send you a Notice of Overpayment. This can happen if you do not report a change to Social Security (SSA). For example, you may not have told SSA that you started working. You may not have told SSA your child moved out of your house. You may not have told SSA your child started getting child support. Sometimes, you may have reported the change, but SSA kept paying you the same amount of benefits.

The Notice of Overpayment will tell you how much SSA thinks you were overpaid. It will tell you to send the money back in 30 days. Don't panic! Read the notice carefully. Is the information on it right? Are the amounts and dates right? Try to figure out if you were really overpaid the amount SSA says.

After you understand what the notice says, you have several ways to deal with it. Here are your choices:

  • File a request for Reconsideration. This means you want SSA to look at your case again. Ask for a reconsideration if you think the amount of the overpayment is wrong, or the reason SSA gives for the overpayment is wrong.

If you do not think you were overpaid, or if you think SSA got the amount wrong, you should ask for a reconsideration of the overpayment.

Click here for more information about reconsideration.

  • Ask for a Waiver. If you agree that you were overpaid, you can still ask SSA to waive it so that you don't have to pay it back. Ask for a waiver if you think that the overpayment was not your fault and you can't afford to pay the money back.

Click here for more information about waiver.

  • Ask for a Payment Arrangement. Do this if you think that the overpayment was your fault or you can afford to pay it back. You can tell SSA that you want to pay the money back a little at a time.

Click here for more information about payment arrangement.

Whatever you decide to do, do it right away! Do not just put the notice aside. If you miss the appeal deadline, SSA will start taking money out of your future checks.

If you file for reconsideration and SSA decides against you, SSA can start getting the overpayment back after that decision, even if you file a further appeal. You may be able to stop this by filing for waiver. If SSA starts to recover the overpayment and you win the appeal, SSA has to pay you back.

Don't give up if you get a notice of overpayment from Social Security. Read the notice carefully. Ask your SSA worker to help you. Always write down the name of anyone you talk to at SSA and the date of the conversation. You can also call Legal Services if you have questions.

Reviewed February 2003 offers legal information, not legal advice. This website provides information on your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online HERE.

Last Review and Update: Feb 27, 2003
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