Social Security overpayments of disability benefits can occur due to changes in your circumstances or giving Social Security insufficient information. If Social Security overpays you and discovers its error, you will receive a notice of the overpayment. If you have a lawyer or nonlawyer representative, he or she will also be notified of the overpayment.
The notice of overpayment will include an explanation of why you have been overpaid, your repayment options, and your appeal and "waiver" rights.
The repayment options available to you are dependent upon the type of benefit you are or were receiving.
If you don't repay the overpayment that is owed to the SSA, there are several steps that the agency can take to get the money that is owed to it. Some of the actions the SSA may take include:
If you receive a notice that you have been overpaid and you do not believe you have been, or you disagree with the amount of overpayment that was stated in the notice, you can file an appeal. The appeal must explain why you believe you have not been overpaid or that the amount of overpayment is wrong.
If you receive an overpayment notice and believe that, although the overpayment notice was accurate, you should not have to pay the money back to the SSA, you may file a waiver. The waiver must prove that the overpayment was not your fault and that paying back the overpayment would cause financial hardship or be unfair. If you file an appeal or waiver, no money will be taken out of your monthly Social Security benefits or money collected for repayment of overpayment until the SSA decides whether the appeal or waiver will be granted. For more information, including the appeal and waiver forms, see our article on how to respond to a overpayment notice.
If your waiver request or appeal is denied, contact a Social Security attorney.
Updated March 19, 2020