What happens if Social Security pays you too much?
Do you get to keep it?
The answer is that it depends on several different factors — including the statute of limitations.
Here, our Social Security attorneys provide a comprehensive overview of the key things that you need to know about Social Security overpayments, the relevant statute of limitations, and your legal rights if you received an official Notice of Overpayment.
Social Security Overpayment: Know Your Rights
What is a Social Security Overpayment?
As explained by the Social Security Administration (SSA), overpayment occurs when an applicant gets more money than they are actually entitled to under the law.
Overpayment can occur for a wide variety of different reasons. Some of the most common examples include a change in income, change in marital status, change in disability status, and mistakes by the Social Security Administration.
How Long is the Social Security Overpayment Statute of Limitations?
There are some limits to how far the SSA will go to recoup alleged overpayments.
While the United States Congress removed a key statute of limitations more than a decade ago, the SSA still operates under administrative regulations that limit how far the agency will go back:
- For SSI benefits, the SSA will generally avoid taking action to recover overpayments that are more than two years old;
- For Social Security benefits, the SSA will generally avoid taking action to recover overpayments that are more than four years old.
It is important to understand that these are general guidelines, not a strict statute of limitations.
If an applicant is alleged to have received an overpayment due to intentional fraud, the SSA may go beyond these timelines.
What Should I Do If I Received a Social Security Overpayment Notice?
In resolving an overpayment issue, the SSA will send out a written document called a ‘Notice of Overpayment’.
If you received one of these, it will likely explain the issue, state how much you allegedly owe, and indicate that you have 30 days to send back the money. Please note that you still have legal options available — even if your overpayment case is clearly within the statute of limitations.
The next three steps are typically as follows:
- Start by requesting a reconsideration. Essentially, this is an appeal of the overpayment notice.
- Next, you can request a waiver. In certain circumstances, particularly if you do not actually have the money to repay the agency, you may be eligible to get the repayment waived.
- Finally, if no other options are available, you may be eligible for a payment plan that allows repayment in installments.
Get Help From a Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
At the Cottrell Law Office, our social security disability attorneys have decades of experience providing strong, successful representation to clients. If you have any questions about social security overpayments, we are here to offer guidance.
To set up a free, no commitment consultation, please contact our law firm right away.
With law offices in Rogers, AR and Joplin, MO, we handle Social Security disability claims in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
Latest posts by Wes Cottrell (see all)
- Social Security Overpayment Statute of Limitations - October 2, 2019
- When to Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer - September 10, 2019
- Your Joplin Disability Lawyer Can Assist with Your Hearing - April 4, 2019