Waiver means that you do not have to pay the money back. You must show that an overpayment of more than $1,000 was not your fault and that it will be a hardship to repay it.
SSA will not make you pay back an overpayment that is $1000 or less if:
- You didn’t cause the overpayment by making a false statement to SSA and
- You ask for a waiver
How to Ask for a Waiver
Write a letter or complete a SSA-632-BK – overpayment form. You can get the form at any Social Security office or on SSA’s website.
A waiver can be requested at any time.
You must show that the overpayment was not your fault and that you can’t afford to pay back the overpayment.
Showing that the Overpayment Wasn’t Your Fault
You have to show that you didn’t know or understand what caused you to be overpaid.
Some reasons that may show the overpayment was not your fault are:
- You have trouble reading.
- You have trouble remembering or understanding directions.
- You believed you reported the item or event that caused the overpayment.
- You did not understand the reporting requirement.
- You applied for SSI a long time ago and don’t remember the reporting rules.
A counselor, case manager, friend, health care provider or relative can give you a statement to help convince the SSA that it wasn’t your fault.
Showing It Is a Hardship to Repay
SSA realizes that if you get SSI you can’t afford to repay. Just write in the financial section: "I get SSI. It would be a financial hardship for me to pay the money back."
If you do not get SSI, you need to list all of your living expenses on the waiver form. If all of your monthly income is needed for your expenses and you have no other bank accounts or other resources, SSA should find that you don’t have the ability to pay back the overpayment.
Some expenses that people forget to list are: snow removal; lawn service; cleaning products, personal care and other non-food grocery items; over-the-counter medicines or vitamins; haircuts; newspapers and magazines; birthday and holiday gifts; entertainment; dry cleaning; cable TV; and internet service.
To get a monthly amount for expenses you don’t have every month, add up the total you pay in one year. Divide the total by 12. Use that amount for your monthly expense. For example, you pay $24 for snow removal 10 times. That’s $240. $240 divided by 12 = $20 monthly.
Tell SSA about things you don’t have because you can’t pay for them. For example, your washing machine is broken, but you can’t afford to have it fixed or buy a new one.
If you have money in a bank, you should explain why the money can’t be used to repay the overpayment. Use the section called "Remarks" on the last page of the form. For example, you need the money to pay bills that you owe or you are saving money to buy new dentures.
If a Waiver is Denied
If SSA says you can’t get a waiver, take these steps:
- If you get Social Security benefits, go to Step Two - ask for an administrative hearing. If you get SSI, ask for reconsideration. This means you want SSA to look at your waiver request again. (See How to Ask for Reconsideration)
- Ask for an Administrative Hearing. Ask for the hearing within 60 days after your reconsideration is turned down. Write a letter or fill out HA-501-U5 – hearing request form. You can get this form at any SSA office or on SSA’s website.
At the hearing, you can tell an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) your side of the story. You can have a lawyer or other representative to help you at the hearing. Call Vermont Law Help at 1-800-889-2047 or get advice or help for the ALJ Hearing from a private lawyer or paralegal.
- If the ALJ doesn’t waive your overpayment, you can appeal the decision. You should fill out HA-520-U5 – Request for Review by the Appeals Council within 60 days after the ALJ decision. You can get this form at any SSA office or on SSA’s website.
You don't have to go the Appeals Council. They will look over the records in your case to see if the ALJ made a mistake.
- If the Appeals Council does not waive your overpayment, you can take your case to federal court. You will need a lawyer to do this. SSA can start collecting an overpayment during a waiver appeal. However, if SSA waives your overpayment, you will get back any money they have collected.