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Liability for Repayments

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

1906. Liability for Repayments

1906.1 Who is liable for repayments?

A beneficiary and/or a representative payee receiving retirement, survivors or disability insurance, benefits on behalf of a beneficiary or SSI, may be equally liable for repayment of any overpayment received, as follows:

  1. The beneficiary is liable if he or she received the benefit of the monies;

  2. The representative payee is personally liable if he or she:

    1. Was at fault in creating the overpayment; or

    2. Did not apply the monies for the beneficiary's use and benefit.

1906.2 Can other individuals be liable for overpayments?

Liability for repayment may move from the overpaid beneficiary or payee to certain others in particular situations:

  1. If the overpaid beneficiary or payee has died, the estate is liable for repayment. We may ask the legal representative to make a refund, or we may withhold benefits due the estate. We may also require the recipients of the estate to refund an overpaid amount to the extent of funds received from the estate; and

  2. If an RSDI overpayment cannot be recovered from the overpaid beneficiary, the payee, or the estate, benefits may be withheld from other persons entitled to benefits on the same earnings record.

1906.3 Who is liable for repayment of SSI benefits?

An individual and spouse who receive SSI payments as a married couple are equally liable if either is overpaid. If overpayment of SSI benefits was made to an alien, the alien and the person who sponsored the alien for admission to the U.S. are equally liable if the overpayment resulted from the sponsor's failure to provide correct information about income and resources. (See §2170.)

Note: When an alien sponsored under a legally enforceable agreement of support receives SSI payments, the individual sponsoring the alien SSI recipient is liable to repay the entire amount of the SSI payments made to the alien recipient.

Last Revised: Jan. 20, 2006




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