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Social Security Overpayment Nightmere
Wed, Apr 23 2008 9:07 PM
Joined on Wed, Apr 23 2008
My wife and I are having a very bad experience dealing with Social Security and it gets worse everyday. My story will be rather detailed, but I feel these little details will paint a larger picture of what we've been going through and how best to deal with this situation. To begin, my wife in her college years (she is now 38) received Social Security Disability benefits. She was hospitalized several times. Apparently she was confused by how the benefits worked. So, when she returned to work per-Deim, she was no longer eligible for the full benefits. She finds out about this after the fact and is informed that she was overpaid by around 28,000 dollars. Since she obviously did not have the funds to pay this off, Social Security agreed to a payment plan of $150.00 per month until the overpayment is clear.
Now, several years later, we are married and have 4 children, all under the age of 4. We live in the expensive state of Connecticut and I am the only one working on a salary of around 40K a year. So, needless to say, we are barely able to make it. So, in December of last year, my wife decided to file the request for Waiver of overpayment, based on our financial situation and numerous debts.
After sending in the required form, we are informed by a letter from Social Security, that additional documentation would be required, including all our credit card statements, insurance bills, etc covering all of our cost of living expenses. This was sent to them in a timely manner and clearly illustrated that we have more expenses then money coming in.
After waiting a couple weeks, we hear nothing. My wife made numerous calls to Social Security, and on each call, we were almost immediately transferred to this same person's voicemail, who subsequently never returned any of our calls. After enduring about 2 more weeks of not being able to get a hold of (apparently the only person at Social Security who could help us), I was very angry. I called Social Security and before they could try transferring me, I informed them this person has not been returning my calls. She then asked me the name of this person, I told her the name, and then she advised me that this person no longer works here. No apology, whatsoever, of the countless times we were transferred to a voicemail of someone no longer even working for the agency. I was instead, asked to hold a minute, and was transferred to a new person's voicemail. Completely surreal.
This new person, however, did call my wife back, and advised her the information is being processed and we will get a letter in the mail shortly. We did receive a letter about a week later (it is late February now) advising my wife the date and time of a phone interview with Social Security.
Now, to move closer to the climax of my story, we had stopped making payments of the $150.00 payments, because we were under the understanding that while the case was being reviewed we could stop making payments, until we get a letter of denial. We also stopped receiving invoices for the $150.00, which further lead us to believe that our account was in a holding status, until everything is reviewed and a decision is made.
Well, the phone interview was also in late February. Now, weeks have past, and we have yet to receive any denial letter, invoice, or any other communication from Social Security.
On Monday, April 21st, we do receive a daunting letter in the mail from the Department of Treasury. This letter states, "As authorized by Federal Law, we applied all or part of your Federal payment to a debt you owe". This Federal Payment is my tax refund in the amount of just over $7000.00!!
It was completely beyond my comprehension how this could happen, given our continued communication with Social Security and the current process we were going through to attempt to have them waive the overpayment. Words cannot express my disgust and anger toward this agency.
My wife rushed over to our nearest Social Security Office and demanded these funds be returned to us immediately. She was then basically told that "once this happens it's almost impossible to reverse". However, the worker did express an understanding of why this happened and did advise her he would return our account to good standing and put in a request to release the tax refund. However, he stated, it is doubtful this will work. He stated it would take a few weeks to know for sure. We will get a letter in mail. He also advised us that we were mailed a denial letter. However, that letter was incorrectly mailed to an address my wife lived at 20 years ago. So, that is why we did not get that letter. My wife also informed the office NUMEROUS times of her current address and her legal name changing since she got married. After she visited the office no less than 5 times, we thought they finally got that right. However, they occasionally still make mistakes and mail correspondence to the old address.
So, I am not holding out much hope I will see my $7000.00. If anyone out there has any advise or tips on how to deal with this impossible agency, please let me know. I desperately need this money to pay off my other debts. I need to know what to do once I get the expected denial letter advising me that they are unable to release my tax refund. I'm also curious, what it would take for them to waive the overpayment, since the documentation I sent them made no difference. However, my immediate concern is getting my $7000.00 back.
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide me. I greatly appreciate it.