Social Security Overpayments Toolkit

What is a Social Security overpayment?

An overpayment is when the Social Security Administration thinks it has paid you too much money. This can happen for many reasons. The Social Security Administration might think that you did not report all of your money. It might think that you are not disabled anymore so you should not have gotten payments during certain months or years.

What should I do if Social Security says I was overpaid?

If Social Security says you were overpaid, you have 3 choices:

Option 1: Appeal

  • When does it make sense to appeal?
    You can appeal if you do not think you were overpaid. You can also appeal if you think the overpayment amount is wrong.
  • How do I appeal?
    1. Fill out the appeal form (called a “Request for Reconsideration”). 
    2. Attach a second page to the form. On this page, explain why you do not think you were overpaid or why you think the overpayment amount is wrong.
  • Is there a deadline to appeal?
    Yes. You must file your appeal within 60 days of the date on the overpayment notice. If you miss this deadline, you cannot appeal.

Option 2: Ask for a Waiver

  • When does it make sense to ask for a waiver?
    Ask for a waiver if the overpayment wasn’t your fault and you can’t afford to pay it back.
  • How do I ask for a waiver?
    Fill out a Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery. You must prove (1) the overpayment wasn’t your fault and (2) you can’t afford to pay it back.
  • Is there a deadline to ask for a waiver?
    No. You can ask for a waiver at any time. 

Option 3: Ask for a Payment Plan

  • When does it make sense to as for a payment plan?
    Ask for a payment plan if you can’t afford to pay back the overpayment.
  • How do I ask for a payment plan?
    1. Write a letter to the Social Security Administration. Tell them how much you can afford to pay each month. A sample letter is attached to the resource document on this page.
    2. Fill out a Request for Change in Overpayment Recovery Rate. It shows the Social Security office how much you can afford to pay each month.
  • What do I do if I agreed to a payment plan, but I can’t pay anymore?
    If something happens and you can’t pay the same amount anymore, call the Social Security Administration right away and ask to change the payment plan. 

Helpful Tips

  • Do something. If you do nothing, the Social Security Administration will start to take the money out of your benefits.
  • File your appeal, waiver, or payment plan request now. This will stop the Social Security Administration from taking your entire check. But, if they deny your appeal or waiver, they will ask you to pay this money back.
  • Bring your papers to your Social Security office in-person. Keep a copy of them for yourself. When you give them your papers, ask for a receipt in case SSA loses your papers.
  • Take notes any time you talk to the Social Security office. Write down what they tell you. That way, if they tell you things that are different or don’t make sense, you know to ask more questions. 

Even though Legal Aid is happy to give you this information, we are not your lawyers. You must meet all of your deadlines and file all of your papers yourself.