If you receive monthly checks from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability, either through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program or through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and you receive a check for more than what you are entitled to, that is called a Social Security overpayment.
If Social Security finds out you've been overpaid, the agency will send you a notice explaining why you have been overpaid and how you can repay it. To find out more about this notice and how Social Security will withhold money from your SSDI or SSI check, see our article on what Social Security does when it discovers an overpayment.
What if I Can’t Afford to Repay the Overpayment?
If you can’t afford to repay the overpayment, or you would like a change in the repayment rate (how much money is withheld from your SSDI or SSI check), you need to fill out form SSA-632-BK (Request for Waiver of Overpayment or Change in Repayment Rate). Social Security does not have a time limit for filing a request for a waiver. When you are filling out the form, you will be asked to prove that the overpayment was not your fault and that paying it back would be unfair or cause you financial difficulties. Social Security may ask for proof of your income and expenses.
What if I Don’t Agree with the Overpayment?
If you think that you were not actually overpaid, or that the overpayment amount is wrong, you need to fill out form SSA-561-U2 (Request for Reconsideration). You have to file this request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving your original overpayment notice. If you miss the 60-day deadline, you must have a good reason and be able to explain it to Social Security.
What Causes an Overpayment?
There are several reasons an overpayment might occur. If you went back to work and did not tell the SSA, and the agency continues to send you monthly payments, that can cause an overpayment (unless you went back to work for a trial period). If your medical condition has improved so much that you are no longer disabled, but you don't tell the SSA, the SSA may want to take back payments for the months you weren't disabled.If you are receiving SSI and you had changes in your income or resources and did not report those changes to the SSA, the agency might be sending you more money than you are entitled to.
How Can I Make Sure I Don’t Receive an Overpayment?
Although sometimes overpayments are the fault of the SSA, many times they are the fault of the SSI or SSDI recipient. It is important that you do what you can to avoid overpayments. The easiest way to avoid being overpaid that is to report all changes to your financial, marital, or living situation to the SSA. You should also report if your disability has improved.
If you notice your monthly checks are for a greater amount than they were previously, and you haven’t received an explanation from the SSA, you should contact them and make sure you are receiving the correct amount. If you are receiving an overpayment, it is better to catch it early on, rather than waiting and having to pay back even more money.
For more information, see our article on how Social Security handles overpayments.