What Do I Do if Social Security says I Overpaid my Disability Benefits?

Q: I just received a letter from the Social Security Administration that says they overpaid disability benefits to me and want me to send them a check for several thousand dollars. I have been on Social Security Disability for more than five years. I cannot afford to pay them back. What can I do?

A: Social Security will send you a notice of overpayment if they find that you have overpaid disability benefits. This may have happened because you did not report a change to Social Security, such as starting working, a child moving out of your house, getting child support, etc. In some cases you may have actually reported the change but Social Security delayed in applying that change to your monthly benefit. The notice of overpayment will tell you how much you were overpaid and it will tell you to send the money back in 30 days. Do not panic! The first thing you need to do is to read the notice carefully, checking to see if the information, dates, and amounts are correct. The first thing for you to do is figure out whether you really were overpaid by Social Security. You have several options, including requesting reconsideration, asking for a waiver, and making payment arrangements. There are strict time limits for filing most of these requests. They should be done in writing at your local Social Security office and by filling out a specific reconsideration request form. Most of the time you can come to an agreement with Social Security directly. If not, you always have the option of bringing your case before a judge.

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