I got a letter stating I was overpaid and now have an overpayment

"Well for 10 years I have battled a Stage 4 Cancer and received disability. My last scans showed a remarkable increase in metastatic disease. Then I get a letter saying I was overpaid for the Year 2008. You see, I have a wife who has severe Fibromyaglia and doesn't work and 2 elementary school kids and they receive SSI based on my disability. I also receive medicare. To survive, I've dabbled in selling travel club packages online and for a while I did well until the company allowed the payplan to be manipulated and I was cut out of my commissions. So, I invested in a scam( thought it was legit) and lost everything. Now, I am so broke. I even had to accept energy assistance. Without our disability payments, we will be homeless. This payment covers the rent. Then last year I had surgery for another cancer(melanoma). I have been on the most powerful medications for the last 10 years straight and am totally disorganized and mentally down. Ignorance is no excuse but I honestly had no idea they could take my disability away."

Work is a confusing issue for many Social Security Disability recipients and many find themselves in your situation and much worse. This situation is most likely not as severe as you might think.

From the facts that you mentioned in your post, I assume that you were only overpaid for the year of 2008. This most likely means that your disability claim had a work review and Social Security found that they paid you some months of benefits they should not have due to your work activity. If so, it does not mean that you have had your disability benefits terminated or that you are no longer Medicare eligible.

I would hazard to guess that you now have an overpayment and that is what should be dealt with at this time. If you do indeed have an overpayment, you need to file a waiver so that Social Security will cease collection actions.

In order to file a waiver, you need to call or go by your local Social Security office to get a waiver form, then complete the form and provide proof of expenses. Social Security may decide in the end to deny the waiver; however you can work out an equitable payment arrangement. Sometimes the monthly repayment amount is just a few dollars a month and the payment arrangement will keep your benefits intact.

Additionally, you can still appeal your overpayment to an administrative law judge even if you have made a payment arrangement. If the ALJ decides in your favor, he or she may lower the amount of the overpayment or waive it entirely.

Overpayments can happen to anyone. The difference is how you handle the overpayment. You do not have to lose your disability benefits, or those of your children. If you are denied for your waiver, just make a small payment arrangement. Social Security would like it all to be paid in thirty six months, but they are willing to work with you if your income and resources do not allow you to make a payment that repays the overpayment in thirty six months.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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