There is definite relief associated with receiving approval of your Boston Social Security Disability Insurance claim.
But that might not be the last time you need an attorney. If the Social Security Administration determines at any point that you’ve been overpaid benefits, the agency can come after you to collect the difference. This is true regardless of whether the error occurred because of an administrative oversight or your own failure to provide updated or sufficient information to the agency.
Our Boston SSDI lawyers have handled numerous cases in which we have successfully requested waivers in these cases so that clients can avoid paying hefty lump sums or penalties.
It’s important not to ignore a notice of overpayment by the administration, because it has the authority to withhold all or portions of your federal tax refund check, a portion of your paycheck, future SSDI or SSI benefits and may even report your non-payment to the credit bureaus.
Even in cases where the waiver might not be granted in full, we can help you negotiate a workable repayment plan with the agency.
The recent case of Rodysill v. Colvin demonstrates how strict the courts can be on this issue.
Here, the beneficiary began collecting SSDI benefits in 1996. Sometime in 2007, the commissioner overseeing his case in Nebraska notified him that his eligibility had actually ended four years earlier, in 2003. The reason was based on his substantial work history from that time forward, of which he had apparently failed to inform the agency.
A later decision by the commissioner revised that date to 2004, but that still meant he owed three years’ worth of back payments to the agency – a total of $22,000.
The claimant requested a waiver. The commissioner denied it and proposed a repayment plan of $300 monthly.
The claimant appealed to an administrative law judge who determined that although the claimant wasn’t at-fault in causing the overpayment, he was still responsible for compensating the agency. The ALJ then looked at claimant and his wife’s ability to pay the bill. The court determined their household income exceeded expenses by nearly $500 monthly, which meant the $300 monthly repayment was reasonable.
The appellate court denied the case for review, and the claimant then appealed the federal court of appeals. That court examined whether there was substantial evidence to support the commissioner’s original decision.
The claimant argued the court had erred in including his wife’s income in availability for repayment, as he hadn’t been married at the time he began receiving those payments. However, the appellate court rejected this argument, as well as the assertions that the court shouldn’t have considered his testimony that he planned to work more hours in the future and the fact that he had just purchased a home.
The fact that the claimant was without fault and the overpayment was due to the negligence of the commissioner, the court found, was not grounds enough to waive the claimant’s responsibility to repay the administration for those three years of benefits. In fact, 42 U.S.C. 404(b) explicitly states that no recovery of overpayment will be due if the person is without fault AND if such a recovery or adjustment would be against equity and good conscience. Both criteria must be met, and the latter lends itself to subjective interpretation from state-to-state and court-to-court.
The help of an attorney with substantial experience in this area of law an often make the difference.
If you need help with an SSDI claim in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Rodysill v. Colvin, March 21, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Longer Waits Expected for Disability Hearings, April 7, 2014, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer Blog