Social Security Overpayments

     Many people fall victim to overpayments in social security disability (SSDI) cases and in supplemental security income (SSI) cases. This is usually due to bad information received from the Social Security Office when you report a change in income or in work status. Usually many months, and in some cases, many years will pass before the Social Security Administration acts upon the information you have provided.

     The scenario usually goes something like this. You call the 1-800 number and report that you are going back to work. The SS representative advises you that they have entered the information into the system and that a representative will be in contact with you about the details. In the meantime you have a trial work period and an extended period of eligibility during which you will be able to continue drawing your benefits. You may actually call periodically and receive the same information. Then, the first "contact" you have with the Administration is that your benefits ceased some months or years ago and you now owe them thousands of dollars.

     To protect yourself you should always write on the calendar the name of the person to whom you spoke and the date and time of your call. Be sure to keep your phone record of that call when your monthly statement arrives. Make a careful record of what the SS representative told you. It will be extremely important later, when you receive your notice of overpayment, to prove that you did what was required and that you relied on what the representative told you.

     In order to ask for a waiver of the overpayment you must be able to prove that you were not at fault in causing the overpayment; that you did not withhold essential information; and that you did not provide false information. You are then allowed to show that you cannot pay it back or that you relied in good faith upon what the representative told you and continued to use the money in the family budget on the assumption that the Social Security Administration would advise you in a timely manner that your benefits would stop.

     Often times you will receive contradictory information from the Administration and you will be confused about what to do. If you have questions you are advised to ask a knowledgeable social security lawyer about what to do. If you receive a notice of overpayment contact a knowledgeable social security lawyer immediately in order to protect yourself against a very serious potential debt. The government can collect your tax returns and other assets if you do not act promptly.

Law Office of Laurence L. Christensen, P.C.