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Overpayments And Appeals

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Overview

Social Security Administration (SSA) overpayments can happen for many reasons. If SSA believes they have paid you more than they should have, they will ask for this amount to be repaid. You and your representative payee, if you have one, will be mailed a letter stating there is an overpayment on record and provide timelines to respond.

There are several ways that a beneficiary can minimize the risk of receiving an overpayment from Social Security, including:

What are your options?

For a quick reference of these options, check out this brief summary

Request for Reconsideration

What it is
If you disagree with a Social Security decision and wish to challenge it, you can submit a Request for Reconsideration.

What form needs to be completed
Request for Reconsideration: SSA 561

What is the timeline
A reconsideration must be filed within 60 days from the time you receive notice of the overpayment. If a Request for Reconsideration is submitted to Social Security within 10 days, the requirement to repay this overpayment will pause and benefits will continue until a decision is made.

Once submitted, you will have additional time to provide Social Security more information.

Additional Supporting Documentation
Depending on the issue you are challenging, you may want to provide additional information that supports your position. These can include pay stubs, bank statements, Work Incentive documentation, or other official records that may help make it clear to Social Security why you should not have an overpayment.

How to submit
You can send a Request for Reconsideration to your local Social Security office by mail, fax, or by dropping it off in person.

Dropping off in person: Write down the day and time you submit your request, along with the name of the person who received it. You should also ask for a copy of any documents you give to Social Security with a date stamp on it.

Mailing: if possible, mail it via “certified mail” and request delivery confirmation. If this is not possible, check in with Social Security after 10 days to confirm they have received it.

Waiver

What it is
With a Waiver, you are asking Social Security to waive the overpayment because 1) you are not at fault, AND 2) you cannot afford to repay the overpaid funds.

Note: If you receive SSI, you only need to show that you were not at fault.

What form needs to be completed
Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery or Change in Repayment Rate (SSA-632)

What is the timeline
Unlike a Request for Reconsideration, there is no timeline to request a Waiver of overpayment.

Additional Supporting Documentation
Depending on the reason for the overpayment, you may want to provide additional information that supports your position. These can include pay stubs, bank statements, Work Incentive documentation, or other official records that help make it clear to Social Security that you are “not at fault,” and, if you do not receive SSI, you “cannot afford to repay” the overpaid funds.

How to submit
You can send a Request for Reconsideration to your local Social Security office by mail, fax, or by dropping it off in person.

Dropping off in person: Write down the day and time you submit your request, along with the name of the person who received it. You should also ask for a copy of any documents you give to Social Security with a date stamp on it.

Mailing: if possible, mail it via “certified mail” and request delivery confirmation. If this is not possible, check in with Social Security after 10 days to confirm they have received it.

Administrative Waiver

What it is
If you have received a notice of overpayment with an original amount of less than $1000.00, you may be able to request an Administrative Waiver. You must show that you are not at fault for the overpayment and paying it back would be a hardship.

What form needs to be completed
You should contact Social Security directly and request the Administrative Waiver. You do not need to complete paperwork to initiate this type of Waiver.

Social Security will not present an Administrative Waiver as an appeal option if it is not specifically requested.

Any overpayments larger than $1,000.00 must follow the general Waiver process.

What is the timeline
There is not a specific timeline to request an Administrative Waiver, but they do require that the original amount of the overpayment be less than $1,000.00.

Security will not reimburse you for payments you made prior to requesting an Administrative Waiver. Because of this, you may want to follow up with Social Security as soon as possible when you receive a notice of overpayment.

Additional Supporting Documentation
Administrative Waivers can be requested by calling or writing to your local office. While you may not be required to submit documentation, it may be helpful to send a copy of the letter showing the overpayment amount and claim number when calling or sending by mail or fax.

How to submit
To request an Administrative Waiver, individuals can call and speak with a claims representative or mail a letter making the request to the local Social Security office.

Negotiated Rate

What it is
You may be able to negotiate a lower overpayment amount if you offer to make a lump-sum payment and pay off the overpayment. An 80% lump sum payment will often be accepted by the local office without the requirement to show financial information. Offering less will require a financial review.

What form needs to be completed
There are no initial forms that need to be completed to request a negotiated rate to repay an overpayment. To request a negotiated rate, you can:

What is the timeline
There is no timeline to negotiate a lump-sum payment but any funds that are paid back will not be refunded to you even if a lump-sum payment is made.

Additional Supporting Documentation
When requesting a lump-sum payment option it may be beneficial to have notes or letters that explain your situation and plan for repayment.

How to submit
To request a lump-sum payment option, individuals can call or visit their local Social Security office.

Payment Plan

What it is
A payment plan allows you to repay SSA overpayments over time. These amounts may vary based on your benefit and ability to repay.

SSI: The standard amount for repayment is 10% of your benefit check per month.

SSDI: The standard for repayment is 10% or $10.00/month, whichever is greater.

If you ask for a lower repayment amount, and it allows you to repay the overpayment within 60 months, the proposed amount may be considered.

What form needs to be completed
To request a payment plan or change in repayment amount, complete the SSA-634 form.

What is the timeline
You can request a payment plan at any time after receiving the overpayment notice. It is best to do so as soon as possible to avoid collection efforts or deductions from your benefits.

Additional Supporting Documentation
You can provide the following supporting information when requesting a payment plan:

How to submit
You can send a payment plan request to your local Social Security office by mail, fax, or by dropping it off in person.

Dropping off in person: Write down the day and time you submit your request, along with the name of the person who received it. You should also ask for a copy of any documents you give to Social Security with a date stamp on it.

Mailing: if possible, mail it via “certified mail” and request delivery confirmation. If this is not possible, check in with Social Security after 10 days to confirm they have received it.

Following up on Your Appeal

Once you submit your initial appeal paperwork, we recommend you contact your local office every 30 days to check the status of the appeal.

While Social Security reviews your appeal, you can submit additional information to support your case.

Whenever you submit paperwork, you will want to make sure Social Security has received it. (You can do this during your 30-day check-ins.) Here is sample language:

“I recently sent in paperwork related to an overpayment to be looked at for (name) and want to make sure it has been received. Are you able to confirm this or help connect me with someone who can?”

When you confirm that Social Security has received all your overpayment paperwork, write down the date, time, name of the person you talked to.

Just because Social Security has your paperwork on file does not mean it has been reviewed. Social Security will send you a letter in the mail when they make a decision.

How Long Will it Take Social Security to Make a Decision?
The amount of time it takes for Social Security to review your appeal varies. It may take several months to receive a decision or any follow-up letters requesting more information.

Social Security denied my appeal request. Can I appeal their decision?

Yes. If Social Security makes a ruling that you do not agree with, you can challenge their decision. Here are the ordered stages of the appeal process. If you disagree with Social Security’s decision at Stage 1, you can appeal and move to Stage 2 of the appeal process; etc.

  1. Request reconsideration: Start by asking us to reconsider a decision we made.
  2. Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ): Request a hearing with an administrative law judge if you don’t agree with our response to your request for reconsideration. You can appeal to an ALJ within 60 days of the reconsideration decision.
  3. Review of hearing decision by Appeals Council: Request a review with the Appeals Council if you don’t agree with the decision made by the judge in your hearing. You can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council within 60 days.
  4. File federal district court action: File a federal district court action with the U.S. District Court if you don’t agree with the response from the Appeals Council. You can file a lawsuit in federal court within 60 days

For more information related to appealing a Social Security decision, please visit the SSA website.

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