Sometimes a person receiving social security benefits is overpaid, for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes, the overpayment occurs through no fault of the recipient.
As a result of several court cases on the issue, Social Security issued Social Security Ruling (SSR) 94-4p, setting forth the contents of notices that must be sent out to a benefit recipient whenever the agency seeks to recover an overpayment.
In order to provide due process, these notices inform the person from whom recoupment is sought of the right to contest the overpayment determination, and to request a waiver of the overpayment. These notices also inform the person of the right to a face-to-face hearing (also termed a “personal conference) before social security will deny a waiver request, as well as the right to review the file folder five days before the oral hearing. Social security will issue written findings of fact explaining any decision on the request for waiver, along with a notice of the right to appeal from the decision.
Social security’s notice will also include the availability of withholding at a different rate when full withholding is sought, or of installment payments when refund is sought and adjustment is not currently available, and/or of cross-program withholding when the person is receiving another type of government benefit from SSA (although the ruling points out that cross-program recovery is not available in New York or Pennsylvania).
It is often economically difficult for lawyers to take overpayment cases. Therefore, it is extremely important for any person receiving a notice of overpayment to pay close attention to the information in the notice.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.