Question: How do I prove that social security overpayment was not my fault?Winning a Social Security Overpayment CaseSocial Security overpayment cases are very tough to win, but certainly not impossible. If you can prove that you are without fault and that you need all your income including Social Security benefits for the most basic of expenses as we’ll discuss below, or that you relied to your detriment (20 C.F.R. § 404.509) on the benefits continuing, you could be allowed to keep the overpayment and not be required to pay it back. Personally, I enjoyed my rather large underpayment much better than the prospect of fighting an overpayment.Discovery of OverpaymentThere are several reasons an overpayment might occur. Sometimes overpayments are the fault of the Social Security Administration (SSA), other times they are the fault of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) recipient which is due to:you went back to work and did not tell SSA, and the agency continues to send you monthly payments, that can cause an overpayment (check out--work trial period).your medical condition has improved making you no longer disabled, but you don't report it, SSA may want to take back payments for the months you were no longer disabled.you are receiving SSI and you had changes in your income or resources and did not report those changes, the agency might be sending you more money than you are entitled resulting in overpayment.It is always a good idea to monitor your deposits and be vigilant about reporting issues, that way you can prevent negative results caused by overpayments when it is discovered and you have to pay it back. Make sure that funds and increases you receive are correct so you don't suffer having to repay that amount later on after you've spent the money.It is best to immediately report an overpayment than having to live without some benefits at a later date. If you notice a potential problem, do not keep it secret or think you miraculously won the Social Security lottery if an explanation does not accompany an increase because SSA will recognize an overpayment sooner or later.You are Allowed to Disagree with SSAIf you receive a notice that you have been overpaid and you disagree with the amount of overpayment you can file an appeal. Your appeal must explain why you believe you were not overpaid or the amount is wrong.If you receive an overpayment notice and believe that, although the overpayment notice was accurate, you should not have to pay the money back to the SSA, you may file a waiver. Your waiver must prove that the overpayment was not your fault and that paying back the overpayment would cause financial hardship or is otherwise unfair.If you file an appeal or waiver, no money will be taken out of your monthly Social Security benefits or money collected for repayment of overpayment until the SSA decides whether the appeal or waiver will be granted.If you think that you were not actually overpaid, or that the overpayment amount is wrong, you need to fill out Request for Reconsideration (form SSA-561-U2). You need to file this request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving your original overpayment notice and if you fail to do that make sure you have a good reason so you can still file late.Regulations regarding overpayments state:Sections 204(b) and 1870(c) of the Act provide that there shall be no adjustment or recovery in any case where an incorrect payment has been made with respect to an individual if the following circumstances are present.You are without fault, andAdjustment or recovery would either:Defeat the purpose of title II of the Act, orBe against equity and good conscience. 20 C.F.R. § 404.506.You Must be Without FaultIf you knew, or should have known that you were not entitled to receive Social Security benefits, you may have a hard time proving that you were not at fault. SSA expects that recipients monitor their payments. Regulations say that it does not matter that Social Security may have made a mistake and that you met with them and showed them your evidence and they still sent you a check, (§ 404.506 and 42 CFR 405.355).An individual will not be “without fault” if the Administration has evidence in its possession which shows lack of good faith or failure to exercise a high degree of care in determining whether circumstances which may cause deductions from his benefits should be brought to the attention of the Administration by an immediate report or refusal of the check.The “without fault” finding depends on all of the circumstances in the particular case, an individual will be found to have been at fault in connection with an overpayment when an incorrect payment resulted from one of the following:Failure to furnish information which the individual knew or should have known was material,An incorrect statement made by the individual which he knew or should have known was incorrect (this includes the individual's furnishing his opinion or conclusion when he was asked for facts), orThe individual did not return a payment which he knew or could have been expected to know was incorrect.If you do manage to prove that you are without fault, you still need to prove that repaying an overpayment would be harmful for you under the following criteria.Defeat the Purpose of the ActIf you are successful in proving that you are without fault then repayment can be argued that repayment would defeat the purpose of the act (20 C.F.R. § 404.508).Repayment would deprive you of income required for ordinary and necessary expenses including:Fixed living expenses, such as food and clothing, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance, insurance (life, accident, and health insurance, taxes, installment payments),Medical, hospitalization, and other similar expenses,Expenses for the support of others for whom the individual is legally responsible, andOther miscellaneous expenses which may reasonably be considered as part of the individual’s standard of living.Social Security does not list cell phone, cable, internet, eating out or going to movies as “ordinary and necessary living expenses.”Against Equity or Good ConscienceRecovery of an overpayment is against equity and good conscience (under title II and title XVIII) if an individual -Changed his or her position for the worserelinquished a valuable right,because of reliance upon a notice that a payment would be made or because of the overpayment itself, orWas living in a separate household from the overpaid person at the time of the overpayment and did not receive the overpayment.The individual's financial circumstances are not material to a finding of against equity and good conscience.Staying on top of your details and being honest with what you’ve reported to Social Security will help you avoid problems in the future. If you are retiring you have worked your entire life and deserve to relax and enjoy your life, not having to fight SSA. As I’ve stated before, there is no Social Security lottery that will send you funds out of the blue, report all income correctly, and question unexplained increases before spending those extra funds tucked into your check.Code of Federal RegulationsDefeat the purpose of Title II.