Social Security overpayment. How does it happen and what can you can do about it? There are things that will be your responsibility even after your claim is approved but, we will discuss that a little later. So how can you be overpaid you ask? It is true that Social Security is a Federal Agency and they have access to your employment history or earnings if you will. Well, there are other things that may play into how your income is determined by Social Security. Let’s look at one possible scenario.
You have been approved for Supplemental Security Income more commonly known as SSI. This is a needs based program. Which means that it is based on income and assets. Assets are things that you own like a car, cabin or savings bonds to name just a few. So now let’s add to that, that your family helps you out by paying your rent and utilities and you didn’t let Social Security know that. Social Security is not privy to items that you are receiving from family and/or others if you do not make them aware of them. But under Social Security rules, your family’s assistance with rent and utilities is considered a gift or as Social Security calls it an in-kind payment and looked at as unearned income and counts toward your total income when calculating your SSI payments. Your total income can only be up to a certain amount gross (meaning before taxes are taken out) to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Now take into account, that Social Security may only review your claim every three years or so. You guessed it, you now may have an overpayment issue with Social Security because during their claim review the fact that your family has been helping out has now come to light. Now Social Security has to refigure what you should have been getting paid and the overpayment will need to be paid back. If the amount of in-kind monies take you over the total income threshold allow by Social Security for an extended period of time, your benefit might be stopped altogether once the overpayment has been taken care of.
Remember that there are many different scenarios that might end in a person being over paid. Before you panic, first make sure that you were truly overpaid. Social Security can make errors too. Then even if you were overpaid, there are ways that you can get the overpayment waived. Social Security should be able to get you the information on how to appeal or try to get a waiver for your overpayment or here is a link that might be of assistance. https://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10098.pdf
I want to leave you with this thought. If you are receiving benefits from Social Security that are need based (SSI) you need to remember that you are responsible to let Social Security know if there are changes in monies you receive. Since they might count toward your total income and thus may cause your payment amount to change. This will help you in not being overpaid and wondering how you are going to repay the money. If you are in doubt whether Social Security needs to know about it or you just do not understand something that Social Security sends you, ask them to explain or contact an attorney to get assistance. Overpayments add up quickly and can become overwhelming to deal with along with your disability.