Learn about Overpayments and Our Process

September 14, 2023 • By

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Last Updated: September 14, 2023

mother cooking with her daughterThe 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.

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  1. Walt

    SSA doesn’t charge interest on overpayments, unlike many private sector outfits….

  2. Donna K.

    I find the problem with SS is that their policies/procedures for these types of things are not interpreted and applied consistently by their customer service agents. I needed to claim unexpectedly at 62 in 2020 when there was hardly any way to speak to ss by phone without being on hold for yes, hours, no offices open. I have never once gotten the same answer twice to my situation, etc. I am sure they are very stressed, just like the rest of us. But there is no compassion or grace offered, it is as if they are told to already assumethe worst of motives on our part for claiming or having an overpayment etc, and do not even try to listen to our particular situation and needs. The website does not offer clear but detailed, easy to understand information either. It is ambiguous.
    I read the Overpayment Sheet, and my take away is that they will work with the SS recipient on a plan that the person can survive on, however this is dependent on the luck of the draw as to who answers the phone when they call to follow up on their overpayment notice. And forget even trying to make an in person appointment at your local office now that they are open again. Every time I have asked, I have been put off and it is “addressed” as they see fit over the phone.

    • Christine

      I Totally Agree and with that said, I Had The Same Problems With The Social Security Administration!!! And now they are making me reapply for my Medicare! I thought that we only had to do that ONCE!!!!!

  3. Leon R.

    I understand the situation which could cause overpayment, but how about underpayment?
    The easy one should be the simple: How does the Social Security Administration ensure no one receives underpaid benefits?

    • AD

      Exactly! I recently started receiving benefits and Medicare premiums were deducted by SSA even though I had prepaid the premiums online for several months out. How can I claim a refund of the double payment of Medicare premiums?

      • Christine

        They did that to me Also. They Overcharged me for 3months worth and were going to just keep overcharging me if I hadn’t Finally caught them!

      • Ann C.

        Hi, AD. Unfortunately, your question is a bit more complex than we can handle in this forum. We encourage you to work with your local Social Security office for assistance. We hope this helps.

  4. Candy C.

    My little SS check has been taken for three months due to what I a told overpayment. I filed an appeal and sent documents which should clear the matter up. I have not heard back from the department nor am I able to speak with anyone. This has caused an extreme hardship on my household.

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Candy. We are sorry to hear about your situation and experience. We encourage you to work with your local Social Security office. You can ask to speak to a supervisor on your next call or visit. We hope this is resolved soon. 

    • S W.

      I received notification that I had an overpayment. I immediately filed an appeal and provided documentation. I received notice that I would not receive my SS payments for 3 months. I called SS, the gentleman said he could see my appeal, that the letter was automatically generated. He fixed it so I would continue to receive my SS until my appeal was finalized. He said if I hadn’t heard on my appeal in a month to go to my local SS office. I went to the office and the guy said he could see in my appeal I had terminal leave which would correct the overpayment. He said that when they scan the documents( our original appeals) they don’t always scan clearly. This is not a good process if we bring original documents and they continue to claim an overpayment because they can’t read a scan. They should shift to appointments, which would save time for them and us.

  5. Frank R.

    This email is incredibly irresponsible! Are you telling all recipients you’re coming after us because you think we’re living in the lap of luxury on our excessive social security checks?! Or, as is the hallmark of this administration, are you trying to put us in a perpetual state of fear?

    • Walt

      If you aren’t overpaid, then you have nothing to fear..

  6. Nope u.

    I think it all SMELLS!

  7. Brian T.

    The Social Security Trust Fund needs to be kept solvent.The multi millions of people who had money taken out of there pay check expect to receive upon retirement.Also,the SSDI has people getting SSDI who are unqualified.All those people getting SSDI need to re qualify.

  8. Brian T.

    The My Social Security Account needs to be simplified,user friendly,up graded

  9. Arcelia F.

    Yes it’s very hard on me to be paying back the overpayment that I received when stupid covid took my husband of 43years! When you are used to having two checks and all of a sudden having ONE it’s very hard. Even if he was getting disability benefits due to his renal failure, it was still 2 checks!!

    • Deborah

      They’re saying they overpaid me because of COVID, I didn’t know what was going on. I had the Ticket to Work and with no one to inform me or no one to speak with I didn’t know what to do. I can’t afford to repay back money I don’t have. This is not my fault.

      • Ann C.

        Hi, Deborah. We are sorry to hear about your situation and experience. We encourage you to work with your local Social Security office. You can ask to speak to a supervisor on your next call or visit. We hope this helps.

  10. JENNIFER n.

    Yeah I’ve worked my whole working life and I should be getting more on my check than what I do cuz I don’t think my pay was calculated correctly plus my rent keeps going up I’m going to end up homeless because I don’t get enough on my disability check so you guys are full of shit an I cant even get into my acount.


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