Social Security Overpayment Rules Changing Under New Leader

With a new commissioner at the helm, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has been announcing several policy changes in recent weeks. For example, one such shift in policy includes a decision to remove food from countable income for recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

In late March 2024, the SSA also issued news regarding the way it handles social security overpayment rules to Social Security recipients.

Can Social Security Take Your Whole Check for Overpayment?

The SSA is required by law to attempt to recoup any overpayments it has issued to people, even if these overpayments were made by mistake. To accomplish this, the SSA in many cases would withhold entire checks from recipients it had overpaid.

For millions of vulnerable people, this meant losing out, sometimes altogether, on crucial financial support. Even if an individual could not afford to pay back the overpayment, they might not receive their benefits for months at a time. Over the past year, numerous media outlets nationwide have been covering the personal stories behind these Social Security clawback procedures and their repercussions.

Many people were subsequently finding “themselves facing homelessness or unable to pay bills because Social Security withheld their entire payment for recovery of an overpayment,” Martin O’Malley, the new Social Security Commissioner, said in a press release. O’Malley, confirmed in December 2023, succeeded former acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi.

Changes to Social Security Overpayment Rules

Under the new rules, the SSA is modifying its overpayment withholding rate from 100 percent of monthly Social Security benefits to “a much more reasonable” 10 percent (or $10 – whichever is greater). This rule became effective on March 25, 2024.

In certain circumstances, a Social Security recipient may receive an overpayment – that is, more than their typical monthly benefit. For example, your marital status may have changed, which can affect the amount of your benefits payment. You may have followed the rules and notified the SSA about this change, but a delay could have led to an improper calculation.

Sometimes, such overpayments are a result of a mistake that the SSA has made that it doesn’t catch until years later. As part of the newly announced changes, the SSA has stated that Social Security recipients who have received overpayments will no longer have to take on the burden of proving to the SSA that they are not at fault.

In addition, the SSA will be revamping its processes regarding repayment. For one, the SSA says it will make requesting a waiver of repayment easier for people who are not at fault for their overpayments. (Note that the SSA still also allows recipients of overpayments to go through an appeals process.) And, whereas it previously sought repayments within three years, the SSA will now approve repayment plans of up to five years.

Whom to Contact With Questions

If the SSA has sent you an overpayment notice, consult your special needs planner. They can offer guidance on your next best course of action. 

You may already be repaying the SSA for an overpayment. If so, you can contact the agency to modify the terms of your repayment plan. The Social Security Administration phone number is 800-772-1213. Or search online for your local Social Security office.

Contact Us Today

Clancy & Associates, Ltd., is the only full-service special needs planning law firm in Illinois. Our attorneys are dedicated to supporting individuals with special needs and their families. We, too, are parents and siblings of loved ones who have a disability and know how daunting and exhausting it is to go from firm-to-firm and provider-to-provider to find solutions and help.

Each child and family’s needs are very different — and we provide tailored, common sense ideas and strategies that reflect your goals, resources, and hopes for your family’s future security.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more about our services and talk about your planning needs.