Sometimes you cause an overpayment by not reporting a change in your income or household to SSA. Maybe you did not know that you were supposed to report the change. Or maybe you did tell SSA and they didn't record it. If the overpayment was not your fault and you cannot afford to pay it back, you can ask for a waiver. A waiver means that even though you were overpaid, SSA will not make you give the money back.
Automatic Waivers for Small Overpayments
SSA must waive your overpayment if:
the amount is less than $500
you did not cause the overpayment by making a false statement to SSA, and
you file a request for waiver
If you did not make a false statement, but SSA denies your waiver of a small overpayment, remind the SSA worker that you qualify for an automatic waiver. If the SSA still denies waiver, you may wish to call Legal Services right away.
Steps in Applying for a Waiver of Overpayment
Get a form called Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery from your local Social Security office. This form asks you a lot of questions. It asks if you reported the change. It asks if you knew you should report the change. It also asks questions about your income. Remember, to get a waiver you must show both that the overpayment was not your fault, and that you do not have enough money to pay back the overpayment.
Here are some reasons why SSA will find an overpayment was not your fault are:
You have trouble reading. You did not know what you had to report to SSA.
You have trouble remembering or understanding directions.
You believed you reported every change you were supposed to report.
No one told you about the need to file reports.
You applied for SSI a long time ago and did not remember the reporting rules.
Next, if you do not get SSI, list all your income and expenses on the part of the form that asks for financial information. If you get SSI, you do not need to give financial information. SSA already knows you cannot afford to repay. Just write on that section: "I am receiving SSI. It would be a financial hardship for me to pay the money back."
If you need help filling out the form, and you ask a worker at SSA to help you, that worker is supposed to help you.
Reviewed February 2003
AlabamaLegalHelp.org 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.