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Changes to SSI & Social Security Overpayment Policies Reduce Burden of Overpayments

May 29, 2024

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently announced several changes that will lessen the burden of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security overpayments. These changes allow individuals to be readily approved for longer payment plans with correspondingly lower monthly payments, provide a more reasonable default withholding for Social Security beneficiaries who are dealing with an overpayment, simplify the process of asking for a waiver, and better account for situations where an individual was not at fault in causing the overpayment. This will provide older adults and individuals with disabilities who receive overpayment notices with much needed financial breathing room and better access to the overpayment waiver process.

These three changes are in effect now:

  1. Previously, when a Social Security beneficiary was assessed an overpayment, SSA would automatically begin withholding 100% of the individual’s monthly benefit to recover the overpayment. Starting March 25, 2024, SSA is using a much more reasonable default withholding rate of 10% of monthly benefits. SSI beneficiaries with an overpayment already default to a 10% withholding rate. See EM-24011 SEN for more details.
  2. Previously, SSA would readily approve requests to extend repayment plans for as long as three years, with the individual only needing to provide a verbal summary of their income, resources, and expenses. Now, SSA will readily approve repayment plans of up to five years, extending this easier repayment option by an additional two years. See GN 02210.030 for more details.
  3. Previously, if an individual asked to waive an overpayment that was for $1,000 or less, SSA would approve the waiver without requiring any further information, unless there was some indication that the person was at fault in causing the overpayment. Starting May 13, 2024, SSA has increased the threshold to use this simplified waiver process to $2,000. See EM-24019 for more details.

This change is in process:

  • Currently, when someone requests waiver of an overpayment, they must first demonstrate that they were not at fault in causing the overpayment; SSA does not take into account situations where the overpayment was caused by another party, such as by SSA itself. SSA is working on reframing their guidance and procedures so that the burden of proof shifts away from the individual and SSA must determine whether there is any evidence that the individual was at fault in causing the overpayment.

SSA has also said that it is working to make it much easier for overpaid beneficiaries to request a waiver of repayment if an individual believes the overpayment was not their fault and they cannot afford to pay it back. We look forward to learning more about the changes SSA will be making, in addition to the change mentioned in #3 above.

Find more information about these changes and how they affect your clients in our webinar, Topics in SSI—Update on Changes to Overpayment Policies.

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