TN 87 (10-01)
SI 00830.110 Overpayment Withholding and the “Double Counting” Exception
Social Security Act, as amended, section 1612(a)(2);
20 CFR 416.1123(b)(1)
The total amount an individual received for any period that exceeds the total amount that should have been paid to the individual for that period. For purposes of this section, an overpayment is defined by the entity paying the benefit and may include overpayments made to someone other than the individual whose benefits are withheld.
2. Double counting
Counting unearned income twice.
3. Unearned income
Unearned income is all income that is not earned income. The types of unearned income affected by this policy are annuities, pensions, retirement, and disability benefits including:
1. General rule
Unearned income includes any part of a benefit (other than SSI) that has been withheld to recover a previous overpayment.
NOTE: This policy applies only when a benefit such as those listed in SI 00830.110A.3. is being reduced for an overpayment. It does not apply to any other benefit reductions or deductions. For example, if a title II benefit is being reduced for any other reason (i.e. worker's compensation or work deductions), this policy does not apply (see SI 00830.210A.).
2. Policy exception to the general rule
The amount withheld to reduce a previous overpayment is not included when determining the amount of unearned income if double counting would result.
Double counting (i.e. counting unearned income twice) would result if:
The individual received both SSI and the other benefit (or deemed income using the other benefit) at the time the overpayment of the other benefit occurred; and
The overpaid amount was included in figuring the SSI payment.
NOTE: Do not apply the exception if:
3. Unable to determine if exception applies
If, after completing all development, you are unable to determine if the exception in SI 00830.110B.2. applies, do not include the amount being withheld to recover an overpayment when determining the amount of unearned income.
4. Multiple Overpayments
When two or more overpayments are being recovered at the same time, assume the overpayment recovery amount is first withheld to repay any overpayments not subject to the exception in SI 00830.110B.2. Apply this assumption regardless of the chronological order in which the overpayments occurred.
For example, an individual receiving title II was overpaid in 1999 and 2000. For purposes of collecting the overpayment, recovery is allocated in chronological order, i.e., the 1999 overpayment is satisfied first and then collection begins for the 2000 overpayment.
However, for the purposes of this policy, if the exception in SI 00830.110B.2. applies only to the 1999 overpayment, assume the 2000 overpayment is satisfied first. Apply the exception to the 1999 overpayment but only after the 2000 overpayment collection has been satisfied.
Does the individual allege receiving an annuity, pension, retirement, or disability benefit such as those listed in SI 00830.110A.3.?
If yes, go to step 2.
If no, discontinue development.
Is any of the benefit being withheld to recover an overpayment?
If yes, go to step 3.
If no, discontinue development.
Review the payment history (PMTH) segment of a SSID to determine SSI benefit payment dates. Did the individual receive SSI when the alleged overpayment occurred?
If yes, go to step 4.
If no, discontinue development. Include the amount being withheld to recover the overpayment when determining the amount of unearned income.
Was the overpayment a title II overpayment?
If yes , go to step 5.
If no, go to step 6.
Check all available records in the FO (e.g. MBR, ROAR, PHUS) to determine when the overpayment occurred, the rate of recovery, and the period of time of recovery of the overpayment. If the information is not available in the FO, contact the servicing PSC. See GN 01070.230, GN 01070.235, and GN 01070.240 for procedures on contacting the PSC regarding overpayment information. Go to step 7.
Verify when the overpayment occurred, the rate of recovery and the period of time of recovery by using documents in the individual's possession or by contacting the appropriate office or agency. Go to step 7.
Does the exception in SI 00830.110B.2 apply?
If yes , go to step 8.
If no, include the amount being withheld to recover the overpayment when determining the amount of unearned income.
Post the net amount of unearned income to the SSR for the period of time the overpayment withholding applies and the gross amount of unearned income beginning the month after the month of the last overpayment withholding. (See SM 01305.210 to determine how far in the future unearned income can be posted.)
If the final date of overpayment withholding is too far in the future to post to the SSR, add a notation in the REMARKS field of the SSR indicating when the overpayment withholding will end (e.g. Title II overpayment withholding ends XX/XXXX. Post gross amount of title II unearned income beginning XX/XXXX.)
1. Exception applies
Joe Jones started receiving title II benefits and SSI benefits in 1/00. In 11/00, Mr. Jones received a notice explaining that he was overpaid $150 in title II benefits from 4/00 through 8/00, and $30 would be withheld from his title II benefit to recover the overpayment from 1/01 through 5/01.
Since the overpaid amount was already included in determining countable unearned income for the period 4/00 through 8/00, the $30 a month being withheld is not included in determining the amount of unearned income when computing Mr. Jones' SSI benefit amount for 1/01 through 5/01.
2. Overpayment makes person ineligible
Alex Martin started receiving SSI benefits and VA benefits in 5/00. His monthly VA benefit increased to $360 in 8/00. The VA benefit increase, combined with other income, caused Mr. Martin to become ineligible for SSI benefits beginning in 8/00. He continued to be ineligible until 1/01 when VA determined his benefit should have been $240 since 8/00. Therefore, Mr. Martin was overpaid a total of $600 by VA from 8/00 through 12/00.
Mr. Martin once again started receiving SSI benefits in 1/01. To recover the VA overpayment, his VA benefit is reduced by $120 a month from 3/01 through 7/01. Since Mr. Martin did not receive SSI benefits during the time he was overpaid, the $120 a month withheld to recover the overpayment is included in determining the amount of Mr. Martin's current unearned income.
3. Another person's overpayment included in deeming computation
Alice Brown has been receiving SSI benefits since 10/00. Carl Brown is her ineligible spouse whose income is subject to deeming. In 4/01, Mr. Brown learns he incurred a $250 title II overpayment in 11/00. SSA recovers the overpayment by withholding $50 a month from the benefits Mr. Brown receives from 6/01 through 10/01.
For deeming purposes, the amount of Mr. Brown's current unearned income does not include the $50 a month withheld from his title II benefits since it has already been used in the deeming computation when SSI benefits were paid for a prior period.
4. Another person's overpayment not previously used in deeming computation
Mary Smith has been receiving SSI benefits since 12/99. Harry Smith, her ineligible spouse, was separated from Mary Smith when he died in 2000. His income was never subject to deeming.
Mr. Smith incurred a $100 title II overpayment in 11/99. Since Mrs. Smith is also a title II beneficiary, SSA recovers Mr. Smith's overpayment by withholding $50 a month from Mrs. Smith's benefits in 3/01 and 4/01. Since none of Mr. Smith's income was subject to deeming when the overpayment occurred, the FO includes the $50 a month withheld from Mrs. Smith's title II benefit when determining the amount of her current unearned income.
For systems alerts/diaries see:
VA 5F alert/diary, SM 02002.043
Title II 5Y alert/diary, SM 02001.261
OPM 5G alert/diary, SM 02002.220