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Answers are provided by Robert S. Kaufman
When You Don't Agree on the Handling of Your Claim
(Posted November 30, 2000)
Question 74: I'm vested for both Social Security and Railroad Retirement. Both benefits are paid by the Railroad Retirement Board. I just received a letter from Social Security that says they have overpaid me several thousand dollars. The letter didn't tell the reason that I was overpaid; it just said that Social Security will tell Railroad Retirement to withhold my benefits until the overpayment is recovered. I'm very confused about who to contact. Can you help me get through this bureaucratic maze?
Answer: I'm not an "expert" on Social Security, but I do know enough about their program to be of some assistance. Railroad Retirement pays Social Security benefits to people who are vested under both programs. But they only function as a paying agent for SSA; all of the decsion-making is done by SSA.
You need to immediately contact SSA and ask them for a complete explanation of why you were overpaid, what specific actions they will take to correct your payments and recover any past overpayments, and what rights you have to question their decision or to review the facts in your case.
I can't emphanise enought how important it is to call them now to ensure that you don't lose any of your rights to review,protest,or appeal.
You can contact Social Security by calling their toll free number, 1-800-772-1213, or checking your local directory under "United States Government" and finding the number of their local office.
Both Railroad Retirement and Social Security have similiar "consumer rights" for people to question and protest any decision made on their claim including any changes to the amounts they receive. But most of them must be exercised within 30 days of the date of the letter you receive informing you of the decision.
Answers are provided as general guidance on the subjects covered in the question and are not provided as legal advice
to the questioner or to readers. Any legal issues should be reviewed by your legal counsel to apply the
law to the particular facts of this and similar situations.
The law in this area changes frequently. Answers are believed to be correct as of the posting dates shown. The completeness
or accuracy of a particular answer may be affected by changes in the law (statutes, regulations, rulings, court decisions, etc.)
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