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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

19-year-old Teen Required to Pay SSI Overpayments

A 19-year old girl is required to pay SSI overpayments by the Social Security Agency.

The overpayment occurred when the agency mistakenly overpaid the benefits of the teenager’s mother who suffered from disabling condition.

Johnna King was clueless about the payments and now, after more than ten years, the agency is asking the teenager to repay the money amounting to more than $1,000. King felt so helpless and nowhere to go to ask for help and even for an advice.

King was barely 12 when her mother died because of heart disease. She was too young then and would simply accept life as it is. She wasn’t even aware that the benefits she had been receiving for more than a decade were all just a mistake—until she was received a notice of overpayment last summer requiring her to pay the full pledge of $1,282.

King first thought that it was a big joke or something. She didn’t even understand why it took more than a decade for the agency to find out about its own mistake. Now, King was left lost and didn’t know who to talk to or what to say and think.

King’s situation has brought many concerns from other citizens who can relate to King’s story. Some asked whether a child can be held liable for something that he or she doesn’t have any control and awareness of and if so, if there’s a chance for the child to file for an appeal to get out from such legal accountability.

In a news report, it is noted that similar issues occur in the California Department of Social Services. A lawsuit preventing the state from running after children for the overpaid benefits has been filed in another part of California. Advocates say that children who received SSI overpayments from the agency are in a little better position. The agency has its due process of appeal.

As King sought for help, she found out that she could be entitled for a waiver once she exhibit hardship on her part. In King’s status, it is easy for her to qualify for the waiver because she is actually delaying college due to lack of sufficient funds to support her schooling. Her only source of income is handcrafting and selling of miniature toys. Consequently, her earning is just enough to cover her basic needs and obviously, she cannot afford to repay the said SSI overpayment.

Eventually, King qualified for the waiver through the help of the Social Security Administration itself and of other concerned citizens. King made it from the appeal process through the case resolution wherein the waiver has been granted in her favor. King will no longer have to pay the inadvertently SSI overpayment.

Once a claimant wishes not to repay the SSI overpayment, a request for the Social Security Administration can be made to forgive the overpayment or, in other words, to have it waived. In the waiving process, the benefits recipient has to prove that he or she was not at fault and that he or she does not have sufficient source of income to repay the overpayment.