TN 66 (10-23)

GN 02201.007 Special Situations - Overpayment

A. Policy — forgery

When a correctly certified benefit check is endorsed and negotiated by someone other than the designated payee, forgery has occurred. The payment is not an overpayment.

B. Process — forgery

When all or part of an overpayment involves forged checks, any overpayment is adjusted to exclude the amount of the forged checks and, if reclamation is possible (see GN 02408.301), the matter is referred to the Treasury Department (TD). TD reclaims the amount of the forged checks from the presenting bank.

This process does not apply when the check is improperly certified (generally through the improper processing of a change of address) to the address of an individual who has the same or a similar name to that of the intended beneficiary. An overpayment has been made.

C. Policy — overpayment given to proper beneficiary

If payment was not made to the proper beneficiary but the funds were turned over to them, the proper beneficiary is overpaid if all or part of the payment is incorrect.

D. Policy — erroneous report of death in military service

When the Department of Defense erroneously reports that a member of the uniformed forces on active duty died in the line of duty, any benefits paid are considered correctly paid if:

  • Payment was for months before the Department of Defense notifies SSA that the individual is still alive; and

  • The survivor would have been entitled to and eligible for benefits if the death report was correct.

E. Policy — early delivery

1. When it occurs

Early delivery occurs when the regularly designated delivery date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal public holiday, and the benefit is delivered on the first preceding day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal public holiday.

2. Applicability

When a benefit delivered early is incorrect because entitlement terminated due to death, divorce or annulment, the incorrect benefit is not recovered if the disqualifying event occurred after the payment was made (i.e., payment was issued and accepted, whether or not spent) but in the same month as the early payment. Assume that the disqualifying event occurred after payment was made. This provision is applicable regardless of the method of payment (e.g., direct payment, representative payment, payment to a financial institution). If representative payment has been made, the representative payee must have expended the incorrect benefit on the beneficiary.

3. Considerations

Assume that the disqualifying event occurred after payment was made. There is no early payment if the check is not received or is returned. Payment of any increased benefits, underpayments, and/or lump-sum death payment is made without regard to the existence of such an incorrect, early payment on the record.

4. Example:

Alice Katt received their benefit check for December on Thursday morning, December 31, and cashed the check that afternoon. On returning to their apartment shortly after cashing the check, Alice died. Although a benefit is not due for the month of death, Alice had already cashed the check for the December benefit. The December benefit is incorrect, but is not subject to recovery.

F. Policy - payments after death directly deposited into joint account

Payments directly deposited into a joint bank account after a beneficiary's death are overpayments to the joint owner of the account (GN 02201.001D if the joint owner was entitled (including technical entitlement) on the deceased's record for the month before the month of death.

1. Entitled on the same record

The joint owner must be entitled on the deceased's record for the month before the month of death. For example, a dually entitled beneficiary may be technically entitled to spouse's benefits on the decedent's account and entitled and receiving benefits on their own account. Although payment is being made only on the retirement account, the spouse can be overpaid if the deceased's benefits were paid by direct deposit into an account they owned with the surviving beneficiary.

2. Joint owner

A joint owner of an account is a person who is named on the account and who has a legal vested property interest or ownership in the account. The term joint owner does not include administrators, executors or persons with power of attorney, conservators, etc., who may also have access to the account but have no ownership rights.

3. Proof of ownership

  • An adult beneficiary (including an adult disabled child) with the same depositor account number (DAN) as the deceased is a joint owner. No additional proof is required.

  • If the DAN's are not the same, or the beneficiary with the same DAN is a minor child, a passbook, monthly statement or letter from the financial institution listing the joint owners is proof of ownership.

4. Erroneous reclamation

Since these payments are overpayments not incorrect payments, the overpaid individual must be notified of the overpayment and given appeal and waiver rights. Reclamation is not appropriate. If a reclamation action is erroneously taken and the joint owner wants to be paid, we will pay any benefits up to the amount reclaimed, thus creating an overpayment, and send an overpayment notice for the total overpayment amount.

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
GN 02201.007 - Special Situations - Overpayment - 10/13/2023
Batch run: 10/13/2023