Monday, March 02, 2009

Social Security Overpayment Situation

Here's a comment that was recently left on another post. Due to its length, I've responded to it in this separate post.

"Hi. I just found your blog in my search for information on disability overpayment. Boy have I got a doozie! I am blind and have drawn SSDI for about 5 years. In November my benefits abruptly ceased. I called and was told that I owed $29000 in overpayment. I was shocked and horrified. I didn't know I could request to continue receiving benefits. Anyway, I am trying to fight this, because I don't understand why they kept overpaying me. I reported that I worked part-time, but at the end of every year I would get a check for several thousand dollars and a letter stating that they had underpayed me for that year. So, I was lulled into a false sense of security. Now, I am financially destitute and can't get a lawyer to take on the overpayment. I am terrified that the waver will be denied even though you can't get blood from a turnip. Add to this the fact that the SSA sees no reason why they should provide my mail in an accessible form so I can read what I consider confidential thereby maintaining my autonomy. Do you think I have a snowball's chance of getting the overpayment amount waved?"

I gather from the information you provided that you have been overpaid due to your work activity. Sometimes it does not matter that a job was, or is, part-time. If it pays well it could very well have put your earnings over the monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) earnings limit.

Additionally, it appears that you completed your nine month trial work period (nine months in any five year period in which you could earn any amount without if affecting your entitlement to disability benefits)and that in the tenth month you must have been earning SGA. You would have been ineligible for benefits any month you were earning over SGA. It appears from your post that you had many months that you were not eligible for disability benefits.

I am not sure how to proceed here, but just a couple of informational items. If your disability benefits were terminated due to work activity, you may be entitled to file an expedited reinstatement of your benefits if your termination month was in the last five years. If you file an expedited reinstatement, they will pay six months of provisional payments while they determine if you are still disabled by Social Security guidelines.

I am just guessing that you are past your extended period of eligibility and have terminated. If you are not working and your extended period of eligibility has not ended, you can call your local office an get your benefits reinstated.

As far as the overpayment goes, your waiver will most likely be denied if the overpayment was due to your work activity. To have an overpayment waived by Social Security you have to have been without fault (work activity is fault situation) and even if you were found to be not at fault you would have to repay the overpayment if you had the means.

That being said, you can always appeal your waiver decision to a hearing and the administrative law judge could reduce it or waive it. You never know. I would suggest if you get your Social Security benefits reinstated you make a payment arrangement while you await your hearing so they do not withhold your benefits. Social Security will consider your income and resources if you are unable to repay your overpayment in 36 months due to lack of means to repay it timely.

As I said before, I am just guessing here. If Social Security found that you were medically not disabled (I cannot imagine it since you state you are blind), you will have to file a new disability claim.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog



Blogger KristinBrianne said...

What happens if you responded every year, were told not to worry, spent more time on medical leave than working and then got your disability taken away? That happened to me, I got them reinstated because I am worse than I was before, now I'm facing a huge overpayment. My only income is Social Security and it barely pays the bills. How far can I appeal it and how much can they take each month? Will they leave me without enough income to get by?

2:51 AM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Kristin, I responded to this in a separate post:

Social Security Disability Overpayments and Getting an Overpayment Waived

4:12 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Hello, can you please tell me what happens if you receive an overpayment notice from when you were a child? My fiance received an overpayment notice of $20,000 from back when she was a child (her mother was pulling benefits and made too much), and as a result has been paying back $10 a month as she awaits her hearing with her administrative law judge. She has her hearing on February and she is getting a bit nervous because she was a child and was not at fault, and $20,000 is a lot of money (it's over $500 per month if repaid within the 36 month time frame that they prefer!). Please help.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Michael and Kristin said...

Oh Johnathon, I'm so sorry! I wish I had posted about my situation lately as it might have encouraged you. I don't know what state you're in, but the man I finally ended up talking to at my local office settled on an amount that is small enough that we can barely live with it for me to overpay since I'm going to be considered disabled forever. Some days the $50 is too much because it's the only income we have but it's better than them taking $200 or more a month. They won't put you out on the street and chances are she won't be found responsible if she truly was just a child.

I know it's hard not to worry, because I honestly had to have huge doses of anxiety meds when my whole issue was going on. Just try to stay calm and calm her down because it will be OK and they aren't quite as scary as they seem when you meet with them face to face or over the phone. IF she can prove she isn't at fault she may not have to pay. If not, probably but it will be manageable. They have to leave you with enough to live on without doing without your medications and living expenses. I'm about to have to beg mine to be lowered! That's what may NOT happen :)

I didn't have any paperwork to support an appeal in my case, because I didn't know I had to have any and I had been relying on the word of mouth from our local office from before we moved. Let that be a lesson to you all: GET YOUR PAPERWORK EVERY TIME YOU TALK TO SOMEONE YOU DOCUMENT THE NAME, DATE, and TIME. Not meaning to shout, but that is so important. I was very ignorant and it is costing me for the rest of my life!

Good luck!

5:06 PM  
Blogger douglas290 said...

Jonathan, your
Fiance is not responsible for the overpayment. Since she was a child I assume that her parent was her payee. The payee is responsible for the overpayment, though the overpayment is posted to her account. This should have a good outcome for her but not her payee. If your fiance has the proceeds of the overpaid money in her bank account, Social Security will want it back. If her payee used the money for their daily living expenses and it's all gone, the judge should waive the overpayment for her. The bad news is that after it is waived, Social Security will go after your former payee for repayment.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Hi Jonathan, I responded here: Social Security Disability Overpayment Notice

6:09 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Thank you all for the responses. To add a little bit more information, she has already filled out the waiver, and was already deemed "not at fault". However, Social Security has claimed that since she has the ability to pay back the money (because she makes too much money) and because she "benefited" from the money, that they can go after her for it.

However, we just received a bit of good news regarding this. As it turns out, the years her mother was pulling benefits, her father had legal custody of her and she lived across the country. Her father was never the payee and never received any money. In other words, her mother was defrauding the system. According to this new information, my fiance did not "benefit" from this extra social security money as she was not living with her mother, so this should wipe it clean for her. I will keep you posted once everything is finalized though.

Thank you all so much for the kind responses and for the additional blog!

12:34 AM  

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