Learn about Overpayments and Our ProcessReading Time: 2 Minutes
Last Updated: September 14, 2023
The Social Security Administration works to ensure that we pay the right person the right amount at the right time, and our payment accuracy rates are high. Given the magnitude of the benefits we pay each year—$1.4 trillion in benefits to more than 70 million people—and complexity of the programs we administer, overpayments can happen.
Social Security is required by law to adjust benefits or recover debts when people receive payments they weren’t entitled to. We take seriously our responsibilities to our customers and to taxpayers to safeguard the integrity of our benefit programs and be good stewards of the trust funds.
Overpayments can occur for many reasons, like when someone does not timely report work or other changes that can affect benefits or when an individual chooses to continue receiving payments during an appeal. Each person’s situation is unique, and we handle overpayments on a case-by-case basis.
Getting an overpayment notice may be unsettling or unclear, and we work with people to navigate the process. We inform people about the fact and amount of the overpayment, their right to appeal, and the options to repay or, in some cases, receive waivers for the debt.
People have the right to appeal the overpayment decision or the amount. They can also ask Social Security to waive collection of the overpayment, if they believe it was not their fault and can’t afford to pay it back. We examine every waiver request to determine if the person caused the debt and their ability to repay. If we can’t waive the debt, we have flexible repayment options—including repayment of as low as $10 per month.
Social Security is working to prevent overpayments and make the process easier.
For more information about the overpayment process, please see our Overpayments Fact Sheet.