A 56-year old disability benefits recipient was first very pleased when she got a letter form the Untied States Social Security Administration (SSA), because she was finally receiving an increase in her monthly benefits, according to a recent news article from the Mail Tribune. For many years she had been living off $766 a month in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits plus another $350 in EBT benefits (food stamps).
However, when she read more of the letter, she learned that she was not receiving an additional $260 in benefits each month as she had originally thought, but instead was being told she owed SSA $260.40. This amount of money she is told she now owes comes from an overpayment made to her mother over 40 years ago when claimant was still in high school. The problem had something to do with the fact that her mother allegedly improperly claimed her as a dependent, and this allowed for the overpayment to occur.
The letter from SSA was informing her that her payment of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits would be reduced next month in the amount of $260.40 to satisfy the debt that is more than four decades old. This is causing significant worry on behalf of claimant, because, as it is, she and her husband can barely pay their rent each month. Her husband is currently unemployed and looking for work.
This particular claimant has been on Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for years as a result of her spinal arthritis, as well as other debilitating medical conditions. She did some investigating when she got the letter from SSA and determined that she was not the only one. At this point, the reporter writing the article on claimant contacted the media relations office for SSA and confirmed this was not an isolated incident. The reason for these letters going out recently when they never had in the past is because of the 2008 Farm Bill.
While you may be asking what the Farm Bill of 2008 has to do with the Social Security disability program, the answer should be nothing. However, when these types of bills are going through the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, people can add things to the bill that have little to do with main focus of the bill. In this case, there were provisions added which eliminated the statute of limitations in the collection of past due debts.
If you are claiming Social Security disability benefits in Boston and receive one of these letters, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. There is a method by which you can challenge having to pay the old bill. If you request a waiver within 30 days of getting the bill in the mail, you must prove that having to pay the debt would result in a difficulty to pay for clothing, housing, food or medical care, and this would be an unjust hardship. If the waiver is approved, the debt will not be automatically taken from the next month’s benefits checks.
If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Social Security wants Ames to pay 40-year-old bill, November 12, 2015, Mail Tribune, by Damian Mann
More Blog Entries:
Hanson v. Colvin: A Critical Look by a Court of Appeals on a Denial of Benefits, August 14, 2014, Boston Disability Lawyers Blog.