I'm writing to get advice from experts in dealing with SSA claims -- specifically a recent SSA letter stating that my girlfriend was overpaid for disability benefits.
1. Should we claim Reconsideration, Waiver or Reconsideration & Waiver? I'm specifically interested if one gives better hope for future success during Personal Conference and review of file.
2. Is it a feasible defense to state "Your agents gave conflicting (and perhaps) incorrect advice which is the reason for the overpayment error?"
3. Does the SSA negotiate the payment amount (as I've heard other creditors will negotiate a lower payment but not sure about the government).
Specifics to this case:
1. SSA Disability Benefits were approved 4 years ago (fatigue syndrome and cancer procedures).
2. SSA asked for a review after 1 year. Girlfriend didn't know she had to send paycheck information. Review went well, she brought paychecks and they authorized continued benefits/payments.
3. SSA asked for a review after about 2.5 years. She brought in her information and reviewer approved again.
4. SSA asked for a review after 4 years. Reviewer stated the previous information received (from SSA personnel) was incorrect. The key issue was girlfriend made too much money. She is a real estate agent and was not receiving many commissions for 2 or 3 years, as could not work. A few sales came through in year 3 and one sale/commission pushed her over the income limit.
5. The last SSA agent said there were special rules for real estate agents (or other people paid on commission) and was going to input that benefits were overpaid.
Overpayment statement just arrived and they are asking for $38K to be reimbursed (basically we believe this is for 2 years of payments).
Of course, she has great frustration in the overall process -- and I was not involved at the time. The advice from the first two agents gave her the benefits, now the third agent said information was incorrect and asking for monies to be returned. We'd like to fight this -- I'm willing to help her but have no experience with the SSA (but have been successful fighting insurance companies, although also very painful).
Thanks in advance for any expert advice!