Where to start: appeal, waiver or negotiation?
There are three ways to respond to an overpayment:
File an Appeal of the overpayment
Request a Waiver of overpayment recovery
Enter into Negotiations to repay the overpaid money
When tackling a Social Security overpayment, it’s useful to start by figuring out which of these options is available to you. Sometimes, you can pursue more than one option simultaneously.
The information on this website discusses each option in great detail, but here is a quick overview.
File an Appeal when an overpayment is incorrect. Here are common examples of overpayment issues that can be appealed:
Social Security believes they overpaid me because there are high earnings associated with my Social Security number during some of the time I was receiving benefits. But I didn’t earn that money. Someone else was using my Social Security number.
Social Security says during ten months while I received SSI, I had more than $2,000 in the bank. But my bank statement shows that I only had that money for six of those ten months.
I did some part-time work while I was receiving benefits from Social Security, so now Social Security says I shouldn’t have received those benefits. But I have high expenses which enable me to work despite my disability. Those expenses should be deducted from my earnings, and thus my earnings would be low enough to entitle me to benefits.
Request a Waiver of Overpayment Recovery when a legitimate overpayment occurred, but the overpayment was not the client’s fault and the client cannot afford to pay it back. For example:
I started a job while I was receiving benefits, and I reported my income to the local Social Security office. Social Security should have known to stop my check. I can barely makes ends meet with my monthly $1100 SSDI check.
When my mother died, I was to inherit $4,000. I called the local Social Security office and asked if that inheritance would stop my SSI check. I was told that I could still get my SSI check if I inherited that money. The Social Security worker told me the wrong thing, so the overpayment is not my fault.
Enter into Negotiations to repay the overpaid money if the overpayment is correct, and there’s no credible way to prove that the client was not at fault and/or cannot afford to repay the amount. In other words, you enter into repayment negotiations when you can’t fight the overpayment.