The Social Security Administration uses a precise algorithm to determine who qualifies for what benefits, and to what degree. While this complex system is reliable, when it comes to tracking benefits, it's not unheard of for this system to have issues. The result of these failures is often a notice of overpayment. For the person on the receiving end, a demand letter from the government threatening to garnish benefits is frightening, but there is typically a solution.
Understand the Basics of Overpayment
It's helpful to understand exactly what an overpayment means before you begin the process of tackling the matter. This type of notice is sent out when the Social Security Administration believes that they have paid you more benefits than you are legally entitled to.
Overpayments can come in the form of an extra payment for the month or payment for a claim you are no longer eligible for, such as for an injury that has gotten better. Even more important, overpayments don't have to be large. The government will come to collect what they believe they are due, no matter the amount.
If you've reviewed the basics of what an overpayment is and you're certain you have not received the extra funds, you need to gather as much documentation as you can to prove this point. Along with the notice should have been a specific amount that you were overpaid and the period.
The best thing for you to do is to collect your bank statements for this time frame to show that there were not any additional funds deposited into your account. Generally, this information alone can help settle this demand letter.
Complete a Waiver Application
In the event you are guilty of receiving an overpayment, even if you did not initially notice the mistake, you should consider filing a waiver application. A waiver is essentially a request you submit to the government to waive the overpayment and cancel any collection actions they might have taken, such as deducting the balance from your remaining benefits payments.
Applying for a waiver is easy, but approval is not as easy. You will need to show several things to be successful, including information that shows you were not aware of the overpayment and that repayment would cause significant financial hardship for you. An attorney can help you prepare this documentation and your testimony.
If you have received an overpayment notice from the government, do not ignore it. Even if the notice is unwarranted, you need to speak with an Social Security Disability lawyer who can help you navigate the matter.