Good News on SSI Overpayments During the COVID-19 Emergency

SSI Overpayments, older woman smiling reading mail

A recent court-approved settlement will benefit over two million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients affected by overpayments during the COVID-19 public health emergency period. Social Security and SSI overpayments occur when individuals receive more money for a month than what should have been paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This occasionally happens and recouping the overpayments can cause moderate to severe financial hardship on beneficiaries and their families, depending on their circumstances and the amount of overpayment. 

This recent court settlement is great news to the two million + beneficiaries affected. 

What Happens Next? Guidance on Waivers for COVID-19 Circumstances

The SSA has issued internal guidance to its employees, directing them to consider COVID-19-related circumstances when evaluating waiver requests for overpayments. These considerations include issues such as inability to contact the agency, government-imposed travel restrictions, illness, changes in child or family care due to stay-at-home orders, and COVID-19-related deaths or serious illnesses in the immediate family or representative payee.

Waiver of Manual SSI Overpayments Made March-September 2020 – SSI Recipient Don’t need to take Any Action

SSA will waive all manual SSI overpayments incurred between March and September 2020, with exceptions for overpayments identified through automated processes, such as VA data matching. SSI recipients do not need to take any action or submit paperwork for these waivers to be granted. Most waivers will be processed by June 2025, with notices sent to eligible individuals.

Refunds for Previously Paid Overpayments

For SSI recipients who have already repaid some or all of the waived overpayments, SSA will issue underpayments or refunds, following standard procedures. These refunds may be issued via direct deposit into recipients’ bank accounts and will be processed without recipients needing to take any additional steps or submit applications.

Notice to Those Assessed Overpayments

SSI recipients assessed overpayments during the COVID-19 emergency period (March 2020-April 2023 – not those in the period mentioned above) will receive notices from SSA in spring 2025. These notices will inform recipients how to seek a waiver, highlighting relevant COVID-19-related factors.

For more information on Social Security overpayments and assistance available for older adults, see our partner’s, National Center on Law and Elder Rights’ recent training: Legal Basics: Social Security Overpayments.

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.