TN 39 (04-16)

SI 02220.045 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Overpayment Recovery from an Estate

A. Procedure for recovering SSI overpayments from an estate

When an overpaid SSI recipient dies, we must determine if he or she left an estate. The policies and procedures for recovering an overpayment from a deceased overpaid Title XVI recipient’s estate are the same as those for a deceased Title II beneficiary.

1. Take the following actions regarding recovery from an estate:

Regardless of the outstanding overpayment balance in the month of the overpaid recipient’s death, do not pursue recovery of the overpayment from the estate if there is:

  • A liable representative payee;

  • A liable spouse;

  • A sponsor of an alien recipient; or

  • An indication of fraud.

2. If you suspect fraud

If you suspect the overpayment was a result of fraud, develop the potential for recovery of the overpayment from the individual(s) who committed fraud. For additional information regarding SSI overpayments resulting from fraud, see SI 02201.007.

3. If there is no liable representative payee, spouse, or sponsor of an alien recipient

When the outstanding balance of the overpayment in the month of the overpaid recipient’s death is:

  • Less than $5,000.01, notify the estate but do not pursue recovery of the overpayment.

  • $5,000.01 or more, pursue recovery from the deceased recipient’s estate.

4. Develop the estate

When the decedent’s estate is liable for repayment, attempt to obtain all development information by direct telephone contact with the appropriate court. Initiate development no earlier than 60 days after the death of the recipient and no later than 2 years after the death.

For more information regarding estate liability and instructions for developing the deceased recipient’s estate, see GN 02215.050.

5. Notify the legal representative of the overpayment

We must notify the estate’s legal representative that the decedent was overpaid and of the estate’s liability for repayment. If there are insufficient funds in the estate to satisfy all of the decedent’s debts, certain expenses take priority over debts due the United States. Additionally, the Social Security (SSA) is subject to state court jurisdiction in some states. For instructions regarding legal representative notification, and more information on state court jurisdiction, see GN 02215.055.

6. Legal representative closes the estate without repaying the overpayment

After we notify an estate’s legal representative of an SSI overpayment, he or she may be personally liable for repayment if he or she subsequently disburses estate funds to pay other debts but fails to repay the SSI overpayment.

If the court has distributed the assets of a debtor’s estate, SSA may also proceed against the distributee(s) of the estate. For instructions regarding closed estates and recovering assets from distributees, see GN 02215.070.

7. Legal representative refuses to refund the overpayment

If the legal representative of an estate refuses to refund the deceased recipient’s overpayment of $5,000.01 or more, refer the overpayment to the Department of Justice (DOJ) with a request for recovery from the deceased’s estate by civil suit. For instructions on SSI overpayment recovery by civil suit, see SI 02220.035.

B. Related references

GN 02215.055 Estate Administered by Legal Representative

GN 02215.070 Estate Closed or Will Not be Administered

GN 02215.050 Liability of Deceased’s Estate

SI 02220.035 SSI Overpayment – Recovery by Civil Suit

SI 02201.007 Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Overpayment Fraud


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