When the Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) accuses people of improperly receiving benefits it is called an overpayment. Recently, I have been increasingly representing claimants that the SSA accuses of working for their self-employed spouses, which results in an overpayment of Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits.
The SSA found that one of my clients became disabled in 1992. In 2005, the claimant notified the SSA that he was going to work for his wife’s company, and asked the SSA to stop his SSD payments. Proof that no good deed goes unpunished, rather than thanking the claimant for telling the SSA to stop his SSD benefits, the SSA told him that he owed $40,000 in overpaid SSD benefits because he had been working for his wife’s company.
It seems that the SSA has an unwritten presumption that disability claimants work for their self-employed spouses. Based on pure speculation, the SSA asserted that the claimant had been working for his wife’s company. Despite dozens of attempts over two years the SSA never provided any evidence in response to my demand for proof that the claimant had been working for his wife.
The SSA has the burden of proving a claimant received an overpayment based on substantial evidence. Despite that burden and the absence of any evidence to support the overpayment allegation, the claimant was compelled to appear for a hearing. Yesterday, I received the hearing decision that ruled there was no overpayment based on the claimant’s tax returns and testimony.
Before contacting me, the claimant intended to see if he could negotiate a reduced overpayment. Although it took over two years, the claimant was well served contesting the overpayment.