COVID-19 Social Security waiver of overpayments during COVID-19

The Social Security Administration has issued an interim final rule regarding waiver of certain overpayments that accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overpayments incurred between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 that Social Security did not manually process because of its cession of certain activities are eligible for a streamlined waiver process.  Social Security will assume that these overpayments were the result of Social Security ceasing certain operations and that it would be against equity and good conscience to collect them and will waive the debt.

Overpayments that qualify for the streamlined waiver process include overpayments caused by suspended Title XVI redeterminations, not processing information in the claimant’s file, and other suspended actions.  Overpayments identified through automated processes such as computer interfaces with the Veterans Administration are not eligible for streamlined waiver because those matches continued to be processed during COVID-19.

Streamlined waiver will not apply to overpayments caused by fraud or misuse of funds by a representative payee.  Only the portion of an overpayment that occurred between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 is eligible for streamlined waiver.

Auxiliary beneficiaries may be eligible for streamlined waiver even if the primary beneficiary is not eligible for streamlined waiver for the overpayment.

Overpayments that are not eligible for streamlined waiver may still be eligible for the regular waiver process.

Social Security will not issue refunds outside of the regular waiver process for overpayment recovery that occurred during the pandemic period.

The streamlined waiver process applies to qualifying overpayments that Social Security identifies before December 31, 2020.

Between August 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020, overpayment notices will direct beneficiaries to contact their local field office about their overpayment or to request an overpayment waiver.  Field offices will review the case to determine if streamlined waiver applies.  If it does, the field office will document the waiver request and attest to the beneficiary’s signature.  The beneficiary will not be required to complete the full SSA-632 Request for Waiver or provide supporting information about their income and expenses to make the waiver determination.

Beginning August 31, 2020, Social Security intends to resume its normal workload.

This interim final rule is effective on August 27, 2020. Comments on the rule are due on October 26, 2020.  (Waiver of Recovery of Certain Overpayment Debts Accruing During the COVID-19 Pandemic Period, 85 Fed. Reg. 52909.)