what happens if you don t pay back disability

In December of 2021, over 9 million people received Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). As you can see, the SSD system is extensive, and sometimes large entities issue improper payments. Improper payment from the SSA can include a Social Security overpayment.

If you have received an SSD overpayment, What happens if you don’t pay back the disability overpayment? The SSA may take the money back from you in other ways, or you might even face criminal liability for accepting a payment the SSA believes you aren’t owed.

But if you have received a notice that you owe the SSA money because of an overpayment, your inability to repay doesn’t mean certain doom. You have several options for debt relief, and Cottrell Law Office can help you. Wesley Cottrell has over 32 years of experience, and our law team gives each client the personal attention they deserve while handling their legal matters.

How Do Social Security Disability Overpayments Happen?

An individual might receive an SSD overpayment if: 

  • They don’t correctly report their wages, 
  • They don’t report a change in marital status,
  • They don’t report other sources of income,
  • Their disability status changes, or
  • They provide incomplete information to the SSA.

Sometimes, beneficiaries receive overpayments because of glitches or failures in the SSA system. However, when overpayment happens, the SSA is open about demanding its money back. 

The SSA sends notices to overpayment recipients, demanding repayment of the overpaid amount within 30 days. Unfortunately, repayment can be impossible for many low-income beneficiaries who owe thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands.

If you can’t just write a check to cover the entire overpayment, the SSA has other ways to enforce its rights or recover its funds.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Back a Disability Overpayment?

Under Social Security Disability overpayment law, if you don’t pay the overpayment back on your own, the SSA can do the following:  

And if the SSA can prove that you knowingly accepted a payment not owed to you, you could be criminally liable for the overpayment. When you receive an overpayment notice from the SSA, you must act quickly to prevent financial or criminal repercussions. Contact us right away for legal relief. 

What Overpayment Relief Options Do You Have?

After receiving a notice of overpayment from the SSA, you can seek several forms of relief.

Filing an Appeal

You have 60 days from the date you received an overpayment notice to file an appeal. In your appeal, you must state why the SSA’s overpayment claim is wrong. Our legal team is skilled and knowledgeable, and we can put forth the most effective arguments in your appeal. 

Requesting a Waiver of Overpayment Recovery

If repaying the SSA would put you in dire straits, you can ask for a waiver of the SSA’s overpayment recovery. To receive a waiver, you must prove the following:

  • Paying back the money claimed would be unfair or cause you financial hardship; and 
  • The overpayment was not your fault.

You might have to dig through the history of your SSD case to pinpoint the cause of your overpayment and argue your position. We have the experience and skill to effectively handle this task and maximize your chance of receiving total relief.

Requesting a Reduction in Withholding

Individuals who don’t appeal the SSA’s overpayment claim or aren’t eligible for a waiver can still ask the SSA to reduce the amount it withholds from their future benefits. We can help you with any legal avenue you choose to resolve an overpayment dispute with the SSA. To get started, give us a call today.

Cottrell Law Office Can Make It Right

Headed by attorney Wesley Cottrell, Cottrell Law Office is a premier firm that helps the people of Joplin, Missouri, and Rogers, Arkansas. Wesley has over three decades of experience, and our law team provides representation with the highest levels of skill and customer service.

If you want an attorney attuned to your unique needs and keeps you in the loop at every step of your legal claim, Cottrell Law Office provides all of the above. To schedule an appointment, call or contact us on our website

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. 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.

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