Disability, General, Retirement, SSI, Survivors

Social Security Eliminates Overpayment Burden for Social Security Beneficiaries – Automatic Overpayment Recovery Rate Reduced to 10 Percent

March 29, 2024 • By

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Last Updated: April 17, 2024

Social Security Administration SealSocial Security announced it will decrease the default overpayment withholding rate for Social Security beneficiaries to ten percent (or $10, whichever is greater) from 100 percent, significantly reducing financial hardship on people with overpayments.

“Social Security is taking a critically important step towards our goal of ensuring our overpayment policies are fair, equitable, and do not unduly harm anyone,” said Martin O’Malley, Commissioner of Social Security.  “It’s unconscionable that someone would find themselves facing homelessness or unable to pay bills, because Social Security withheld their entire payment for recovery of an overpayment.”

The agency works to pay the right people the right amounts at the right time, and Social Security issues correct payments in most cases.  However, there is room to improve, as people count on the agency to prevent overpayments from happening and make it easier to navigate the recovery and waiver processes when they occur.

When a person has been overpaid, the law requires the agency to seek repayment, which can create financial difficulties for beneficiaries.  As of March 25, 2024, the agency will collect ten percent (or $10, whichever is greater) of the total monthly Social Security benefit to recover an overpayment, rather than collecting 100 percent as was previous procedure.  There will be limited exceptions to this change, such as when an overpayment resulted from fraud.

There will be a short transition period where people will continue to experience the older policy.  People placed in 100 percent withholding during this transition period should call Social Security’s National 800 Number at 1-800-772-1213 to lower their withholding rate.

The change applies to new overpayments.  If beneficiaries already have an overpayment with a withholding rate greater than ten percent and would like a lower recovery rate, they too should call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or their local Social Security office to speak with a representative.  If a beneficiary requests a rate lower than ten percent, a representative will approve the request if it allows recovery of the overpayment within 60 months – a recent increase to improve how the agency serves its customers from the previous policy of only 36 months.  If the beneficiary’s proposed rate would extend recovery of the overpayment beyond 60 months, the Social Security representative will gather income, resource, and expense information from the beneficiary to make a determination.

Social Security launched a comprehensive review in October 2023 of agency overpayment policies and procedures to address payment accuracy systematically. Learn about Overpayments and Our Process and read our Press Release.  This procedure change is a direct result of the ongoing review.  This change and the adjustment to 60-month repayment are part of four recently announced key updates to address improper payments.  The agency also is working to reduce wage-related improper payments by establishing information exchanges with payroll data providers that will significantly reduce the number of improper payments, once implemented.  The agency will continue examining programmatic policy and making regulatory and sub-regulatory changes to improve the overpayment process.

Additionally, people have the right to appeal the overpayment decision or the amount.  They can 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.  The agency does not pursue recoveries while an initial appeal or waiver is pending.  Even if people do not want to appeal or request a waiver, they should contact the agency if the planned withholding would cause hardship.  Social Security has flexible repayment options, including repayment of as low as $10 per month.  Each person’s situation is unique, and the agency handles overpayments on a case-by-case basis.

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  1. Lisa P.

    My 90 year old mother received an over payment letter,she is on section 8 and is unable to pay back,she told social security many times over the years her amount was wrong and they assured her it was not and NOW This letter! We will write an appeal letter cause this is your fault!! Not hers!

    Reply
  2. Bonnie S.

    I receive widows benefits. I have an overpayment on my account. I was told that your full retirement age is earlier than your personal retirement age. I turned 66 years old IN September. I was told that any checks that I was suppose to receive would go to my overpayment. Why can i not see that on my online account. 100% of my benefit is being with held. Has been since 5/2023. I have been told that a waiver has been filed 2 times and I would receive my benefit. I have spoken to your office and visited your office multiple times still no response. I also have inquired about paying medicare was told I could not because i did not have a invoice. This has been going on over a year. How does the new policy apply to me? Why is my benefits still being with held? I was told whenever a waiver is being done new that they dont hold your benefit. How does your new policy apply to me. My full benefit is being with held has been since 5/2023 what you say I owe does not even match the amount you have with held. Am I not going to receive any benefits at all even though I paid into them for over 50 years.

    Reply
  3. Camille S.

    We currently pay $500/month approved by Social Security to address overpayment. If we reduce amount to 10%, if beneficiary dies, does the spouse have to continue to pay overpayment back. (Spouse is currently not on social security.)

    Reply
    • T.Y.

      Hi, Camille! Thank you for reading our blog. Unfortunately, your problem is more complex than we can handle in this forum. For your security, we do not have access to information about your overpayment. For more information read our frequently asked question “What can I do if I’m notified that I have an overpayment?” If you still have questions, or for further assistance, you should call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-078) for assistance, between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Wait times to speak to a representative are typically shorter early in the day (between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time) or later in the afternoon (between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time). We hope this helps.

      Reply
  4. David W.

    What happens to the overpayment I send in each month. I was told it never totally goes away. It goes back in my benefit account???

    Reply
    • S.D.

      Thanks for reading our blog and for your question, David. An overpayment occurs when you receive more money than you should have been paid. The payment you make each month is applied to the overpayment balance until we recover the debt. To learn more about overpayments, check out our blog and Frequently Asked Questions. If you have specific questions about your overpayment, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  5. Dave W.

    I can’t repay my overpayment in one lump sum and will opt for the Automatic Overpayment Recovery Rate, limited to 10% of my monthly benefit. With the 10% limit, it will take 41 months to fully repay my balance.
    However, I will reach full retirement age in August 2025, well before my overpayment has been fully repaid. What happens when I reach full retirement age? Will any unpaid balance be forgiven? Or will the automatic overpayment continue until the balance is paid off?

    Reply
    • S.D.

      Hi, Dave. Thanks for reading our blog and for your question. We’ll continue to withhold 10% of your monthly benefit until we recover the overpayment in full. For more information about overpayments, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. We hope this helps.

      Reply

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