If an individual is overpaid SSI or SSDI benefits, what happens? When the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds that it has overpaid disability benefits, either due to a calculating mistake, change in circumstances or other factors, it will issue a Notice of Overpayment which instructs repayment of the overpaid amount within 30 days. If you believe that the notice was sent in error, you have 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration. If you file within 10 days, however, the SSA will not take action to collect the overpayment until after it decides the issues presented in the reconsideration. After a review on the issue, if the overpayment is found to be owed but you are unable to repay the amount without a hardship, the SSA may either waive the overpayment or set up a reasonable repayment plan, sometimes entering into a compromise that only a portion of the overpayment be repaid.
If you believe that you were overpaid, but it was through no fault of your own, you can request a waiver of the overpayment. The SSA may waive the overpayment in cases where the person is without fault and where the collection of the overpayment would be against equity or good conscience. In cases where the overpaid amount is $1,000 or less, the SSA generally will grant an administrative waiver so long as the person is not at fault. When the SSA issues a waiver of an overpayment, it writes off the overpaid amount permanently and cannot subsequently attempt to collect it. However, the individual notified of an overpayment must request the waiver in order to be considered for a write-off.
You should be aware, however, that requests for waivers are going to be receiving greater scrutiny in the future. On June 4, 2015, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report recommending that the SSA conduct greater review of those “outlier” SSA field offices with higher than average waiver approval rates. The OIG study found a significant disparity among SSA field offices in the percentages of cases in which overpayment recovery was waived. In response to the OIG report, SSA agreed to conduct periodic quality reviews of waiver rates of field offices. The OIG also recommended that field office personnel be reminded to follow proper documentation procedures with respect to waiver requests and decisions. By September 30, 2015, the SSA intends to develop new training for field office personnel on documenting waiver requests and decisions.