HomeNewsSocial Security: How to Fix Errors If You’re Being Underpaid

Social Security: How to Fix Errors If You’re Being Underpaid

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

If you’ve noticed that your Social Security payments are decreasing, contact the SSA immediately. Here’s how.

According to The U.S. Sun, more than 70 million senior citizens receive social security each month. And while the SSA rarely underpays recipients, mistakes still happen.

The administration defines an underpayment as an accrued benefit amount that was not paid, a check(s) representing correct payment to a deceased beneficiary that was not negotiated, or an issued payment that was returned or not received.

If you’re not getting your full benefits, the easiest way to rectify the situation is to call the SSA at 800-772-1213. But make sure you call sooner than later because the longer the problem goes unresolved, the harder it will be to fix.

What Happens if the Social Security Administration Overpays?

On the flip side, it’s also possible to receive too much money from the SSA. And that can lead to even more headaches.

Overpayments only happen about 0.2%, according to AARP. But if you don’t notice the larger payout immediately, you may have to deal with smaller paychecks—or no paychecks—for months to come.

When the Social Security Administration realizes that it’s made the error, it will notify you by mail. And to right the wrong, the administration will typically withhold payments until the deficit is reversed.

There are a few different ways they can do this.

In some cases, the SSA will withhold your complete check until you settle the debt. Meaning, you will have to go without a payment during that time. Though, to choose that route, you’ll have to get special permission. And the withholding will go into effect 30 days after you’re notified of the overpayment.

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the administration will likely withhold 10% of your monthly earnings until you’ve repaid the debt.

If you can’t afford to go without that 10% each month, you can ask the SSA to take less. Or, if you prefer, then you can request a larger deduction to pay back the money quicker.

But in those cases, the SSA will wait 60 days to begin the deductions.

If you’re a Social Security recipient, but the overpayments happened while you were still on SSI, the process is generally the same. The administration will still take 10% to fix the oversight. And if you’d like to work out a different plan, the SSA will still help.

To avoid spending months repaying the SSA, it’s important to pay attention to your checks or direct deposits. If you notice a discrepancy, call the SSA directly or contact a representative online.

You can also keep track of your Social Security payments by logging into your My Social Security account on the SSA website.