SSA Announces Changes to Overpayment Recovery

SSA Announces Changes to Overpayment Recovery

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration (SSA) shut down many of their field offices. These closures in March of 2020 made it difficult for beneficiaries to report changes in their finances that would impact their benefits. In September of 2020, the offices remained closed to the public, but the agency began processing the overpayments against SSI recipients. The SSA found thousands of recipients to have been ineligible for one or more months for which they received benefits. To “remedy” this situation, the SSA began to withhold 100% of future monthly payments until the overpayment is recovered. 

In November of 2023, a settlement was approved in a nationwide class action lawsuit. Moving forward, the SSA must use the guidance outlined in Emergency Message (EM-24005) “when making a fault determination on a waiver request for an overpayment incurred in any month since March 2020.”  Now, the difficulties of reporting updated income information during the COVID-19 shutdown must be considered when determining the fault of the overpayment. An overpayment can be waived if one meets both of the following criteria:

  • “The person is without fault, and
  • Recovery would either defeat the purpose of the act or be against equity and good conscience”

In March of 2024, the Commissioner announced that the SSA will be handling overpayment of benefits differently. Effective March 25, 2024, the SSA will only withhold 10% of the monthly benefit until the overpayment is recovered. SSA reports that their systems may still have some glitches with this update for a few months. It is best to call the SSA to request a manual adjustment to this lower repayment rate to ensure that you receive this adjustment. 

You can read more about this change here.

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