Authored by Ceetee Sheckels in Health Care
Published on 12-06-2009
The best way to deal with Social Security overpayment is to ensure that it not occur in the first place. This involves two equally-important factors. First, you must take care to inform you local Social Security office of any changes in your situation. This must be done in a timely manner so that any changes which affect either your eligibility for Social Security payments or the amount of the payments is on record. Second, staying alert to any changes in the amount of your checks is also essential. Whether you have your Social Security checks directly deposited into your bank account or whether you receive them in the mail, you should know the exact amount so you can easily notice if you have been sent more than you are entitled to receive.
Sometimes overpayment occurs even when you are careful. If you receive a notice informing you that you have received too much money, you have a few options. First, if you check your records and find that their claim is valid, you have the option of paying back the money. If you are amongst those who cannot afford to pay back the entire amount, either due to a fixed income or the overpayment continuing over a period of time, the Social Security Administration may be willing to make a payment arrangement. They will tell you how much money you must send them per month in order to repay the extra money. While getting the extra money paid back is their priority, they will try to be fair regarding how much you can reasonably afford to pay per month.
You might also wish to consider filing for a waiver. A waiver means that you believe you should not be required to repay the money. You can contact the Social Security Administration to request that a form be mailed to you, pick one up at a branch office near your home, or check the Social Security Administration’s website. You should be aware that applying for a waiver does not automatically mean that it will be granted. If you are denied, you may wish to follow up with an appeal. As this is not a simple process, it can be very helpful for you to obtain an attorney to assist you with the appeal and to help you to know the facts about your rights. There are attorneys who specialize in Social Security cases, although a person who has a limited income may choose to consult his or her local Legal Aid agency first. Whichever you prefer, it is better for you to not attempt to deal with an appeal without legal representation.
If you notice an overpayment on your own, or if you receive a notice, the most important thing to keep in mind is to not ignore it. You will save yourself from unnecessary problems if you address the issue immediately. While an overpayment may not be your fault at all, it is still your responsibility to deal with it in a timely manner.