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Legal Liability for Social Security Overpayments – IF10146

Legal Liability for Social Security Overpayments – IF10146 published on

Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members and to the family members of deceased workers. Payroll taxes paid by covered workers and their employers primarily finance the program. An overpayment of Social Security benefits occurs when a beneficiary receiving retirement, survivors, or disability insurance benefits is paid more than he should have been paid for a given period. 20 C.F.R. §404.501(a).  The beneficiary incorrectly reporting or failing to report a change in circumstances that could affect his benefits eligibility is the primary cause of an overpayment. For example, a Social Security disability beneficiary’s failure to inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) that he has begun to receive wages may result in an overpayment of benefits more than the amount due.  Once the government has determined that an overpayment has been made, the overpayment becomes a debt owed to the United States government. SSA generally recovers this debt through an adjustment of benefits payable, a full refund payment by the overpaid beneficiary, or a reduction in tax refunds.  This In Focus will examine who is liable for Social Security overpayments, and thus who may be subject to these recovery methods by SSA. 

Date of Report: March 10, 2015
Pages: 2
Order Number: IF10146
Price: $5.95

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