Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Social Security / SSDI

Social Security Wants a Refund of Benefits Saying I Earned Too Much. – Cameron

“Dear Steve,

I’m disabled and receive social security disability. I work part-time. Social Security has a limit on the amount SSDI recipients are allowed to earn from work. I got a letter and a bill from them telling me that in four different months over the past two years I earned too much money. In each month the amount was not more than $50 to $100, but I have to repay all the benefits I received in those months, which is approximately $5000.

I have many other debts and will file bankruptcy as soon as I save enough to pay an attorney. Do you know if this debt to Social Security can be discharged through bankruptcy?


Dear Cameron,

According to Social Security you are able to earn and not lose benefits up to certain levels.

We have special rules called “work incentives” that help you keep your disability and Medicare benefits while you test your ability to work. For example, there is a trial work period during. During the trial work period you can receive full benefits regardless of how much you earn. You just have to report your work activity and continue to have a disabling impairment.

The trial work period continues until you accumulate nine months (not necessarily consecutive) in which you perform what we call “services” within a rolling 60-month period. We consider your work to be “services” if you earn more than $720 a month in 2010. For 2009, this amount was $700.

After the trial work period ends, your benefits will stop for months your earnings are at a level we consider “substantial,” currently $1,000 in 2010. For 2009, this amount was $980. Different amounts apply to people who are disabled because of blindness. The monthly substantial amount for statutorily blind individuals for 2010 is $1,640; for 2009 this amount was $1,640.

For an additional 36 months after completing the trial work period, we can start your benefits again if your earnings fall below the “substantial” level and you continue to have a disabling impairment. For more information about work incentives, we recommend that you read the leaflet, Working While Disabled-How We Can Help (SSA Publication Number 05-10095).

If you have just received this notice of overpayment you have a short window, 60 days, to file a request for reconsideration. The information on how to do this should be included in your notice.

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You can then request a Waiver of Overpayment, showing you don’t have the funds available to repay the amount owed. Click here for more information on Waiver Of Overpayment Recovery Or Change In Repayment Rate – Form SSA-632-BK.

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Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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