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Social Security Overpayment Pro Se Toolkit

Authored By: Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

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Social Security Overpayments

What is a Social Security overpayment?

An overpayment happens when the Social Security Administration (SSA) thinks it has paid you more than it should have.  There are many reasons why this might happen, including: you received money it thinks was not reported or it believes you are not disabled anymore (and have not been for a while) so were not entitled to benefits for certain months/years.

What should I do if Social Security says I was overpaid?

Do not ignore it. If you do nothing, SSA will begin to collect the overpayment out of your benefits.  You have 3 choices:  

(1) Appeal
  • If you do not think you were overpaid or think the overpayment amount is wrong, you can file an appeal, or a “Request for Reconsideration.”  The appeal form is attached.
  • Say why you do not think you were overpaid or why you think the total overpayment amount is wrong.
  • THE DEADLINE FOR FILING AN APPEAL IS 60 DAYS FROM THE DATE ON THE OVERPAYMENT NOTICE.  If you miss the deadline, you will not be able to appeal the overpayment in the future.
(2) Waiver
  • If you think that the overpayment wasn’t your fault and can’t afford to pay it back, you can ask SSA to forgive the overpayment with a “Request for Waiver.”  The Waiver form is attached to the packet above.
  • To get a waiver, you must show that (1) the overpayment was not your fault AND (2) you cannot afford to pay it back.
  • You can request a Waiver at any time, even if money is being collected.
(3) Payment Plan
  • Ask for a reasonable payment plan. A sample request is attached.
  • Go to your local SSA Office and offer a monthly amount you are sure you can afford.  Sometimes, people who have lower incomes can get into payment plans that are $10/month.
  • Fill out an Income and Expense Statement to show that the amount you offer is the most you can afford to pay each month.
  • If your situation changes and you can no longer afford the agreed upon payment plan, contact SSA immediately to change the plan.
Helpful Tips
  • File your appeal, waiver, or payment plan request immediately to stop SSA from taking your entire check.  However, if your appeal or waiver request is denied, SSA will ask you to pay this money back.
  • File any papers with your SSA Office in-person.  Also, keep a copy of them for yourself and ask for a receipt in case SSA loses your papers.
  • Keep a record of any contact you have with SSA, and what SSA tells you.  That way, if an SSA person gives you information that conflicts with information another SSA person gave you, you know to ask more questions.


This information has been provided by the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

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