TN 55 (05-24)

GN 02250.061 Misinformation From an Official Source — Waiver

A. Policy

Misinformation is information that is incorrect or incomplete. An overpaid individual is without fault for an overpayment if they or their representative payee relied on incorrect information provided by an SSA employee who should have been aware that the information was inaccurate.

1. Active Seeking of Information

A person is misinformed only when they actively sought information which subsequently proved to be incorrect. Misinformation can be given both orally and in a notice, however, a routine notice is never cause for misinformation. For example, misinformation does not apply to the AERO notice received by a person who has received an incorrect benefit computation.

2. Misunderstanding Not Misinformation

Misunderstanding of correct information from an official source does not constitute misinformation. A person who misunderstood correct information may be without fault for the overpayment, see GN 02250.005.

3. How Misinformation Is Applied

A finding of without fault based on misinformation applies to the month misinformation is received and succeeding months. In rare situations, you can find misinformation for months before a person gets correct information, see GN 02250.061C.1. If you establish misinformation, recovery is deemed to be against equity and good conscience, see GN 02250.150.

4. Examples

Example 1:  A person who relies on misinformation that earnings after retirement will not cause deductions for months in the same taxable year may be found without fault for any overpayment in the year due to work even though they worked before retirement.

Example 2:  Similarly, if a person is misinformed and later in the same year SSA provides correct information, continued work and earnings do not preclude a finding of without fault for the months in which the person relied on misinformation.

B. Procedure

1. Statement of Person Alleging Misinformation

Obtain a full explanation for the person's reliance on incorrect information in the person's own words. Have the person describe the situation that created the need for information and the facts available to the provider of the information. Have the person summarize the information received and give the time and place it was received.

2. Correct Answer Incorrectly Applied

Be alert to situations where the person has incorrectly applied correct information. A correct answer to a general question may be incorrect when applied to a person's specific situation and would not constitute misinformation. Ascertain if the person alleging misinformation asked a general question which did not contain the specifics of his situation.

3. Resolve Any Doubt in Favor of Beneficiary

If development does not preclude a finding of misinformation and the detailed allegation is consistent with the facts of the case, resolve any doubts in favor of finding that the beneficiary did receive misinformation.

C. Examples

1. Situation Is Misinformation

Kai Mori reported their marriage in May 2010. Upon investigation, it is discovered that their young spousal benefits should have terminated in September 2008 when Kai divorced the number holder. Kai alleges that they called the FO to report their divorce and was told that since they were married for 10 years Kai could continue to receive benefits so long as their youngest child was under age 16. Misinformation can be established since the allegations are consistent with the facts of the case.

2. Situation Is Not Misinformation

Damon Torrance is overpaid due to work. Damon alleges that they called the 800 number and was told they could work part-time without losing benefits. Damon also indicated that when they got their job in March, Damon was only working 10 hours per week and probably gave that as their estimate of earnings. Since then, Damon received a raise and increased their work to 30 hours per week. Based on the facts in this case, it appears that Damon misapplied correct information. Misinformation cannot be found.

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GN 02250.061 - Misinformation From an Official Source — Waiver - 05/01/2024
Batch run: 05/01/2024