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Last Update : 01-31-2012 

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Social Security Question:

I was awarded Social Security Disability about 6 or 7 years ago. Everything went fine, in fact I was awarded it the 1st time

Social Security Answer:

I was awarded Social Security Disability about 6 or 7 years ago. Everything went fine, in fact I was awarded it the 1st time through! I filled everything out just as it was asked for. I not only received my Disability, but Social Security decide I was disabled before I even claimed I was and gave me retroactive funds going back another year or so. I thought to myself,"Wow! People are always saying how tough it is to work with Social Security. I hadn't seen that at ALL!". Well, I shouldn't have been so sure of myself. Last year I got a letter in the mail saying that they reviewed things and decided now that they had made a mistake and wanted me to pay them back the sum of $32,000.00. It went further to say that I could just mail them a check in the enclosed envelope! Needless to say I didn't mail them a check, I don't have that kind of money! So I contacted them and they said I could go before and ALJ and tell them why I shouldn't have to pay them back. I went to a hearing about a month ago and was going to defend myself using the premise of it was their decision and not mine. That they made the mistake. The judge cautioned me about defending myself and told me he thought I should get representation. So, out of 9 attorney's I have contacted, none of them say they will defend an overpayment. So I right back where I started. I don't have a clue what I should do. Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.


Support Replied ~ 01-31-2012 19:56:44

Dear John: The first thing you should do is file a waiver....that states that the overpayment is not your fault and you cannot afford to pay it back....What period did they say that you were overpaid? Was it the retro period that they paid you for that you didn't expect? Was there something in the application that was an untruth that Social Security based their payments to you on? Did you get Supplemental Security Income and SSDI? You should know exactly what the overpayment is for and if you don't , file a reconsideration along with the waiver. How did you get to see a judge? Did you already file a hearing? The things that you state don't make sense to me......A judge would not tell you to get an attorney unless there is a technical problem that he did not think you could fight.....Did you contact Legal Assistance? In any case, if they say you are overpaid that money, tell them to take it at a small amount from your benefits. They can do that......Get back to me with the answers to the questions......Carol
Your Comment ~ 02-02-2012 14:45:33

Thank you for your reply. I am excited to be able to chat with someone who knows how these things work. I'm sure you have heard it many times, but I can't believe what they are putting me through. The hours and hours of paperwork I have had to do just floors me. There is no way the average person could navigate through all this "stuff". I thought I would just answer your questions as they came up in the email........ Dear John: The first thing you should do is file a waiver....that states that the overpayment is not your fault and you cannot afford to pay it back....What period did they say that you were overpaid? Was it the retro period that they paid you for that you didn't expect? I met with a Social Security (Social Security) employee 09-21-2010 by appointment here in Albuquerque at the local office. She had me file a "Review, Social Security Form #HA-501-U5". She explained to me that my overpayment was because I showed a lot of income during the period that Social Security decided my disability should have started. The options the Social Security employee told me I had was to file an "Appeal or repay it. She told me a waiver was a waste of time because of the income I have. Well, my income is dependent on a business I sold staying in business in this economic climate. My monthly payment I receive on my loan is all at risk. It is not money I can depend on. I also have a private disability insurance that's paying me $2820.00 per month. This is also not classified as income I was told ( or am I wrong about that?) She told me the best she could do was she could take half of my check each month until it was paid off. Approx 3 years time. I told her I would appeal. My argument is that Social Security determined that my disability started on 10/30/2004 when the surgeon botched my back surgery, not me. (No recourse on the surgery either. State of New Mexico says back surgeons are not responsible for any outcome from back surgery, even when they make an "Oops". Crazy eh!) So Social Security started benefits for me on 10/30/2006 after the 1 year waiting period. I owned my own business, so I was still on salary during this time even though I was only working an hour or 2 a day because of the pain and the medications. All of this was reported to Social Security on my papers when I filed for Disability. On 09/01/2007 the business was sold. I was not able to run the business because of the disability. The new owners asked if I could work a little bit part-time for 1 year to help them get on their feet. Wasn't of a whole lot of use during this period but the new owners wanted me there for any questions they had. It was actually written into the sales contract on the business that I HAD to be there 1 or 2 hours a day. This income was also reported to SS. It didn't amount to a whole lot. In fact it was below the amount where they take away some of the disability benefit. One of the issues I plan to bring up to the ALJ Judge is that a note was made for a loan to the new owners. I receive $4762.12 per month from this note, $57145.44 per year for 7 years, but it is not income I receive from working. It's money being paid back to me from a loan, not income. (Does that make sense?) That is one of the things that they disqualified me for was that I made money........So, yes, it was "the retro period that they paid me for that I didn't expect" that they want back. My protest is that it was entirely their decision through no fault of my own what-so-ever that I received the overpayment. I used most of it to modify my home for better handicapped access. In April of 2011, I was asked to submit paperwork to justify why I was asking for a reconsideration. Social Security had lost everything I had sent them the first time so we had to start all over again. A little frustrating, but things happen....... It was about this time that I was told I had to start up a payment plan to start repaying the debt. I offered them $100.00 per month out of my check and they have been taking that out ever since. Was there something in the application that was an untruth that Social Security based their payments to you on? Did you get Supplemental Security Income and SSDI? You should know exactly what the overpayment is for and if you don't , file a reconsideration along with the waiver. No, there was no untruth. I had paperwork to back up each and every statement made. I figured if I gave Social Security exactly what they wanted and asked for it would go smoothly, and it did! I started on-line paperwork 12/2007. on ...................................On my SSA-3381 Medical and Job Work Sheet I stated my first doctor visit for back pain started 2002, back surgery was 10/2004 when the actual damage was done. I listed all my medications and medical tests and wrote that my job was from 1975 to 2007 and that I averaged $78,000 per year plus bonuses. I sure hated to have to sell my business. I was making good income. I was not ready to retire in any way shape or form. I was finally making good money after all those 60 and 70 hour weeks for 30+ years. The pain was too much so I sold. Anyway, I continued explaining all my income on SSA821BK "Work Activity Report". This was done 12/2007. I also filed out a SSA-4184 "Self-Employment / Corporate Officer Questionnaire. In that I further stated my income up till the sale of the business 09/2007. I wrote on the sheet," I worked far less hours since 10-2004. I relieved myself of management duties as much as was possible and the decision to do so that I could negatively effect the profitability of the business due to Drug Fog. I don't know what I am getting other than it's Social Security Disability in regards to Supplemental Security Income and SSDI. I was asked to go to the Social Security Office here in Albuq by letter on 01/12/2008. It stated that I met an agent at the Albuq office and I filed my Social Security disability forms 12/14/2007 which is correct. I was told on the letter they needed me to bring in my Birth Certificate which I did. Then on02/04/2008 I was sent a Social Security Form #SSA-3373-BK which is a "Function Report - Adult". I got this back to them 03/07/2008. All I could tell them in it was just how sucky things were. How did you get to see a judge? Did you already file a hearing? The things that you state don't make sense to me......A judge would not tell you to get an attorney unless there is a technical problem that he did not think you could fight.....Did you contact Legal Assistance? In any case, if they say you are overpaid that money, tell them to take it at a small amount from your benefits. They can do that......Get back to me with the answers to the questions......Carol On 06/07/2011 I received a letter from Kansas City. It said "We have received your request for review of your claim. The prior determination was a reopening. The next level of appeal is to a hearing" It further went on to tell me that an ALJ would review it and look at any new facts I might have. So a Social Security Form HA-501-UR "Request for Hearing" was filed out for me by a Social Security employee, Terri Synder, in Kansas City requesting a hearing. In the same month 06/2011 I got another from in the mail saying that I will continue to receive my benefit and the balance owed was $32,206.00. I received a letter 07-28-2011 telling me I had a hearing on 09/15/2011. On 08-25-2011 I wrote and had to ask for the meeting to be moved to another date. I had tickets to go on a trip 09-15 through 09-18. It was moved to 12-29-2011. I met with the ALJ on that date. He asked me if I had anyone representing me. I said no, that from what I read in the documentation this was a fairly simple procedure and that I thought I could represent myself. I had called a few attorneys and no one wanted to take the case on. So I prepared some documents to read to the judge and give him a copy. My defense was of course the form that I got that stated," We found that you became disabled under our rules on October 30, 2004." So my defense was simple, on Social Security form HA-L83 my defense on an overpayment was that I am "without fault" as explained on that sheet and that paying that back would become a hardship. Anyway, I never got that far when the judge told me that in his court he wants to make sure that people know all their options. He said "you have the right to ask me to reschedule this so that you can get someone to defend you". He also told me that most people do bring in someone to defend them, that as far as the "without fault" clause that he does not have to abide by that at all. He said that if I tell you I see assets of yours I can and have asked people to liquidate them and pay back what you owe. He asked me that if someone was suing me in court for $32,000.00 would I get someone to defend me. I of course said yes and then realized what he was inferring. So, I have asked for a reschedule and have not received a new date yet. I have contacted 8 attorneys that all specialize in Social Security. All of them flat told me no, that they would not represent me. They all said it wasn't worth their time. One told me it would cost at least $1500.00 to even begin to represent me. So I asked him," If I put together any and all facts and figures you ask for and put everything together in a format when you could just show up at the hearing and explain it you would do that for $1500.00? He said he wouldn't even do that, that it was a waste of his energy and time and that he could make more money doing something else. I left 2 messages at the Legal Services Office of the Bar Assoc and they never even called me back! The list supplied by Social Security for defense attorneys said that if I couldn't pay that some of the Free legal help services might help me. Well, I don't qualify. I'm being penalized for working hard in the past and making a living, go figure. So the ALJ recommended I get representation but no one will do it. Long story short, I was "overpaid" by SS's mistake, told to get representation I can't get to help me, and at my wits end. I filed for Social Security Disability 12/2007 figuring the 1 year rule made me eligible soon that I might as well start the process. Next thing I know I'm approved and sent funds because Social Security decided I was due monthly payments beginning 11/2006 to 03/2008 and that those would be paid retroactive. It also told me in this letter I would start receiving monthly payments. Those would start 04/2008 and I would actually receive that first payment in 05/2008 and each month thereafter. Last question; I have been sending the problems I am having on this with Social Security to my congressman, Martin Heinrich so someone is aware of what's going on with this. Do I have your permission to send him a copy of what we are doing? Thanks Carol, John Disque


Support Replied ~ 02-03-2012 13:28:01

Dear John: Left you a message on your phone to call me....Very complicated question.....Carol

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DISCLAIMER - You should consult with your local Social Security Office before acting upon any information received as a response to your question on "Social Security Advisor".

"Social Security Advisor" is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. It is offered with the understanding that neither the publisher nor the author is engaged in rendering legal, accounting, investment or other professional advice or services.

Information obtained from RetirementCommunity.com, including e-mail responses from "Social Security Advisor" should be considered as general educational information. You must never rely upon the advice given here. Your individual situation may not fit the generalizations discussed. Only your local Social Security office can evaluate your individual situation and give you advice.


Social Security Questions and answers
In the news: Read Carols comments in this BankRate.com Social Security article


Thank you so much. The amount of infomation you provided on our call went a long way in helping to resolve the issues I had with the social security rep I was working with.
Tom F. 09-21-2017


Thank you so much. You provide a fantastic service and I really appreciate all your help. The next time I have a question regarding Social Security I will go to you first and save myself a lot of time.
Carol J. 09-09-2017


Thanks for the straight forward answers. It would have save a lot of time if I knew about this site months ago.
Emily D. 08-29-2017

Great talking with you and thanks for the help. Things now seem to be going in the right direction.
Chris H. 08-29-2017

Hello, thank you so much for responding to my inquiry, I really did not expect to get an answer from you so quickly. Brought the information you sent to my social security office an the issue, i have been dealing with for months, was resolved in an hour.
Veda M. 08-09-2017

Thank you so much for the reply.
Tom C. 07-10-2017

Thank you so much for returning my email so quickly.
Laverne J. 06-30-2017

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