Whether you receive benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both programs, you may receive an overpayment at some point. If you do, it is important to understand what happens next, including how you should proceed.
Sometimes the error occurs on the SSA’s side, but more often than not, overpayments happen because a benefit recipient fails to notify the SSA of a change. Changes that can affect eligibility or the amount of monthly benefit payments include:
- Improvement in your medical condition
- An increase in your hours of work, if you are still working
- Changes in income or financial resources, if you are receiving SSI benefits
- Adjustments in your living situation or family status, particularly if you receive SSI
It is best to stay in regular contact with the SSA regarding any changes that could affect your benefit payments. If you are in doubt, it is better to call and find out than it is to owe the SSA hundreds or thousands of dollars in overpayments.
Catch Overpayments when They Happen
In the past, catching an overpayment was a little easier, as benefits were sent via check. Today however, Social Security Disability payments are issued electronically as automatic deposits, so it is even more important to be mindful of always checking the amount of monthly benefits.
Funds may be transferred to your bank account or a benefit card, dependent upon how you have your payments setup. Either way, it is important to catch overpayments when they happen so you do not spend the extra funds.
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) catches an error, they will demand you repay the money, though they may allow you to repay it over time. Be sure to monitor your benefit payments on a consistent basis and catch overpayments when they happen. This makes paying back the SSA simpler for you.
Reporting an Overpayment
If you notice your benefit amount is larger than usual, contact the SSA to verify your benefits are accurate before spending any of the additional funds. Call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to express your concerns over the change in your benefit amount.
The SSA representative with whom you speak may not immediately be able to give you an answer about whether or not there was an overpayment. Hold the “additional” funds in reserve, just in case they need to be paid back.
When an Overpayment Occurs
The SSA will investigate your concerns and determine if there was an overpayment. If they find there was an overpayment of benefits, you will receive a notice detailing:
- The overpayment amount
- The reason for the overpayment
- The repayment terms, including typically a 30-day due date for repayment
- The process for:
- Making other payment arrangements
- Requesting a waiver due to financial hardship
- Appealing the determination of the overpayment, if the error was not your fault
In most cases, the SSA will expect repayment of any funds issued to you over and above the benefits you were entitled to receive. If you did not immediately realize there was an overpayment and spent some or all of the funds, you may wish to seek assistance from a Social Security advocate or attorney in dealing with the SSA regarding repayment terms and conditions. This is especially true if you believe you were not at fault for the overpayment and that the SSA is responsible for the error.