Q: There was overpayment on family's Survivor's Benefits. Mother is in debt and was told this would not happen. What to do?
My siblings received survivors benefits on behalf of my deceased father until they turned 18. I had a disability that I needed to be supported as well, and after working with a Lawyer I was approved for benefits on the same account, with disabled adult child benefits. He said that this would not result in a loss of funds for the rest of my family. But because of the back payments i received, they said mom had been overpayed for my siblings and had to return it. They said that the repayment could be waived if the overpayment was not mother's fault and she could not pay it back. She was given incorrect information by both our lawyer and social security, who assured her that our family would not lose any benefits, so I believe it is not her fault. And she is currently in debt, so she cannot repay. But now she has begun receiving retirement payments, and Social Security has withheld the back payments and intends to withhold payments starting January. We tried a waiver. What else can we do?
I am unsure about the timeframe you are referring to with regard to the claimed overpayment. I want to make sure that you know about a new rule that Social Security has published effective August 27, 2020 in which Social Security acknowledged that it would be against equity and good conscience to collect overpayments made between March 1 to September 30, 2020, and those who did incur an overpayment during this period are without fault. See https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-08-27/pdf/2020-18834.pdf. If you had an overpayment during this time period, file a request for waiver or appeal the waiver since Social Security has already stated that a person who had incurred an overpayment during this timeframe is without fault.
If you have exhausted your waiver appeals, you can make a payment arrangement with Social Security to pay the money back a little at a time. That repayment arrangement would be based on how much of your income you need for your basic necessities.
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I completely agree with Ms. Schaefer, the first thing you need to do is determine if the overpayment was incurred during that time frame of March 1 to September 30, 2020. If it was, then appeal or file a new waiver right away citing this recent regulation. If the overpayment was not incurred during this time frame, then the only things you can do is continue to try and appeal the overpayment, or set up a payment arrangement with SSA to pay them back. You can read more about the law for the situation here:
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