A newspaper in Florida recently profiled the plight of a working single mother whose miscalculation of SSDI and SSI benefits has prompted the Social Security Administration to halt her benefits altogether.
Our Boston SSDI attorneys recognize that as much as obtaining benefits can be a struggle, keeping them can be a battle as well.
The Supplemental Security Income is a program that pays benefits to both disabled adults and children who have limited resources and income. Approximately 8 million Americans receive SSI. The amount of benefits one can receive is based upon a combination of factors and is largely influenced on your monthly income versus expenses.
In some cases, people may receive both SSDI and SSI.
An overpayment is when the administration pays you more than it should have, resulting in you having to either pay the money back in full, have a percentage of your future payments docked or have your payments halted altogether.
Potential causes of overpayment include:
- A change in living situation or marital status;
- Having an income that is higher than you estimated;
- Having more resources than the allowable limit;
- You aren’t disabled any longer, yet continue to receive benefits;
- You don’t report any changes to the administration in a timely fashion;
- The administration incorrectly figures your benefits due to incorrect or incomplete information.
Of course, the process can be quite confusing, so it’s no surprise that mistakes are sometimes made. If the administration determines that you have been overpaid, it will send you a brief explanation in the mail with a request asking for a full refund within 30 days. If you fail to do so, the administration may take action by withholding your federal tax refund, deducting a percentage of your future benefits or even reporting this non-payment to the credit bureaus. For those who are already scraping by, this can be extremely worrisome.
The good news is that with the help of an experienced SSDII attorney, you can often successfully appeal to limit or eliminate your obligation to repay an overpayment. The goal of the appeal is to show that either you haven’t actually been overpaid or that the overpayment amount was inflated. Alternatively, even if the overpayment notice is correct, you may be able to file a waiver showing that the error was not your own and that forcing you to cover the amount would cause undue financial hardship.
Proving this is no easy task, which is why having a legal advocate on your side can make all the difference.
In the Florida case, the single mother works part-time as a dishwasher for $9 an hour, yet receives SSDI due to a learning disability. She also receives SSI payments for her two sons – one of whom has a speech disability and the other ADHD. The administration determined that over the course of the last several years, it has overpaid her nearly $35,000 because her income as a dishwasher wasn’t properly reported. Despite the fact that even with the benefits she is far below the poverty line, the government has cut off the SSI payments to her children.
She is working to appeal that decision, and the case is pending.
Amid constant public pressure to reduce expenditures, the administration is constantly looking for ways to cut costs. However, this should not be at the expense of those who truly need the help.
If you need to file an SSDI overpayment appeal in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Miscalculation Threatens Family’s SSI Benefits, Jan. 27, 2013, By Erica Pera, The Lakeland Ledger