Social Security demands money back
Question: I received a letter from Social Security stating they paid me too much in benefits and that they want me to pay the money back. Do I really have to pay it back?
Answer: From Stacia Silva, Legal Aid attorney: If you did get overpaid, you might have to repay Social Security (SSA). You can do so by making monthly payments or by having your benefits reduced until the overpayment is paid back. There are two ways of appealing a claim of overpayment (you can do both): 1) Request for Reconsideration and 2) Request for Waiver.
You should file a Request for Reconsideration if you do not think you were overpaid or you realize you got overpaid but think the amount of the overpayment is incorrect. You must turn in your request for reconsideration within 60 calendar days from the date you get the overpayment notice (SSA assumes you get the notice five days after the mailing date, so you actually have a total of 65 calendar days from the mailing date on the notice). To request a waiver, fill out a form called a Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery. There is no deadline to turn in your waiver request; you can even request a waiver after SSA begins to take the money back. But if you don't want SSA to start collecting the overpayment (by reducing your checks), you must turn in the waiver within 30 days of receiving the overpayment notice.
In order to get a waiver, you must show: 1) You did not cause the overpayment, and it is not your fault, and 2) if you had to pay the overpayment, it would be a) a financial hardship to your household, or b) against equity and good conscience.
Q: I have a friend who needs legal help, but she is on Kauai. Do you have any other offices besides downtown Honolulu?
A: The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has nine offices throughout the state: Honolulu, Waianae and Kaneohe on Oahu; Hilo and Kona on the Big Island; and offices on Maui, Kauai, Lanai and Molokai. Visit our Web site at www.legalaidhawaii.org and click on "About Us" and then "Offices" for more information.
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii operates statewide. Practice areas include housing, public benefits, consumer and family law but not criminal law. For information, call 536-4302. Submit questions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or by U.S. mail to Legal Aid Q&A, 924 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813.