How to get help in switch from SSI to SSDI...

One collects SSI for years. A SS worker tells the recipient that they are eligible for SSDI eight years ago and should have been put on it. They switched the person over to SSDI. SSI then notifies the person that they now owe for back payments totalling $29,000 due to an error the person was not responsible for and had no control over. The person had been told that, being that SSDI was $20/mo more, they would be getting compensated for the past eight years they had not been getting it. However, now the person is being told they owe SSI $29,000 and that the SSDI will not be paying that money, which is what they should have been paying all along. So now the person is left holding the bag.

What remedies does this person have? Who should they go to for help?

Do you have any more information about this $29,000 error? How did they arrive at that figure, and why do they hold the claimant responsible for it??

Every letter of unfavorable action that I’ve seen from the Social Security Administration contained appeal instructions. Follow them, and don’t miss the written deadline.

Letters from the SSA typically are blunt and try to place the burden of proof on the individual.

Usually, a visit to the office, where you are face to face with a real person, works out in a reasonable fashion and the irrational horror story described in the letter goes away.

Good luck to whomever. Just don’t miss those appeal deadlines!

As a former SSA employee, there’s something screwy about that situation. From what I can remember of how SSI/SSDI benefits work, the only way that someone who had been receiving SSI benefits could owe that much in overpaid back SSI benefits is if it was determined that they had not been eligible for those benefits in the first place, or if it was determined that they were due back SSDI benefits for all or part of the period they were entitled to SSI benefits. In the latter case, the excess SSI benefits would be automatically withheld from the past due SSDI benefits for the period they were entitled to both benefits. Did this person receive a large payment of past-due SSDI benefits?

In any case, John Carter of Mars is giving you good advice: follow the instructions for filing an appeal immediately. Call the SSA toll-free number (1-800-772-1213) and if necessary insist on an appointment with the local office, although any of the customer service reps there should be able to start the appeals process over the phone.


This looks to me like it should have been a zero sum transaction and somebody dropped a number. Logically, if a person collects SSI for 8 years that they should have been collecting SSDI then:

[li]They should have been ineligible for SSI for 8 years.[/li][li]They should have been eligible for SSDI for the past 8 years.[/li][li]The difference of $20 aside, the back SSDI should cover the ineligible SSI and result in a zero sum transaction.[/li][li]The $20 that should have accrued would be surplus and should be paid out either in a lump sum or amortized to a set schedule of repayment to the recipient.[/li][/ul]

Yeah, call SS ASAP, something’s odd about the math in this.

(note-this post is just my opinion and reflects a red flag that the situation seems to have brought up. I don’t claim to know anything about how SS works but I can recognize something fishy when I see it.)

FearI: The $29,000 is the cumulation of the SSI payments for the last 8 years.

JohnC: The person has never heard of an appeal that came out favorable to the claimant. Instead when the gov’t knows it has the person over the barrel & can’t afford legal representation, the person is pretty well screwed.

Lurk: The person was originally told they were due $2700 in back payments, but was later told that was being withheld because of this $29000 overpayment. They did not receive any past due payments.

nd_n8: That’s exactly what the person has been telling them. The person has called SSA, spoken to several representatives & supervisors & has been told the same negative thing. The person has finally contacted someone at the local office & has been told they cannot proceed further until they recieve the documentation that has yet to come in the mail. But the person has been told by all representatives that the situation is being handled by several teams in different departments & that’s the answer they’ve come up with. There are no lawyers in her area that take pro-bono or contingency SSI cases. What advocacy can she get? She’s being bent over a barrell & rammed up the hiney-hole, and not in a good way.:smiley:
Thanks for the help, everybody. This is very encouraging!

IIRC, NPR or one of the major broadcast news networks just did a story on this kind of thing, and from what I remember of the piece, your friend is wrong. Generally what happens is that the appeals process is rushed and an approval is given simply because that’s the fastest way to get the matter solved as there is a tremendous backlog of cases. (I paid a bit of attention to the story as I have a coworker who’s wife has been dealing with the SSA for a while.)

I don’t know about your area, but around here, there’s tons of lawyers who advertise that they’ll take on the SSA for a low-fee (I don’t know how it works, I’m guessing they get a cut or something). A Google search should turn up some legal aid organizations near your friend who’d be willing to give advice for free (or next to nothing), I’d suggest getting a list of them, and then calling them first thing Monday morning. They might not be able to represent her, but they could no doubt point her in the direction of someone who could do it for what she can afford to pay.

One thing is for certain: If she doesn’t meet the appeal deadline in the letter, she won’t win. Contrary to folklore, “The Govt” is not some citizen-hating monster. She should go to the local office and explain the situation. She may be pleasantly surprised.

So her payments haven’t been reduced yet? She hasn’t yet received the letter containing her appeal rights and date? If not, this may be much ado about nothing.

The local office should be her first stop. (no phone call, GO THERE.) Normally, one does not need a lawyer to correct snafus like this one.

Even if everything is screwed up keep sending in appeals before the case lapses, or they will get nothing. By having a non lapsed case on the books they could receive back payment after this drags on. Miss one deadline and everything starts over from the day you reapply. You won’t get anything for that previous time during the dispute that the appeal lapsed.

I think youor whomever needs to consult a SS attorney immediately.

You’re talking two different agencies here. SSI is part of the welfare system. SSDI is part of the social security system. The SS system owes the welfare system, but they have to approve you retroactively for 8 years. Then they will pay SSI directly.

The claim goes to the recipient because if the SS system approves them retroactively, payment may automatically go to the recipient. SSI is just asserting their claim to this money.

If SS doesn’t approve retroactively, or only for a portion of that time, SSI has no claim against the recipient. As long as SSDI knows you have received money from SSI, any retroactive payments approved will automatically be paid to SSI.

The claim simply alerts the recipient that the may not be entitled to all money received in case there is an error, and an error is not an unlikelihood.

Do get a lawyer or advocate however…there are many permutations to the situation that can be very stressful to the non-initiate. Best not to tackle it alone.

Have the person call Legal Aid. There are some things that can be done, but it’s tricky stuff. If the person was on SSI, they probably qualify for Legal Aid.

I don’t know if IN is an odd state or if I’ve just not looked up the right numbers but AFAIK the only pro-bono representation is through legal aid and law school students. I do know that IU takes some cases each year but there is a deadline and I don’t know what it is, other schools may have similar programs with different deadlines. Beyond that legal aid might be your best bet. Any lawyer I have ever had to deal with in this state has been able to practice in multiple counties so if there is no one in the area then check legal aid in a neighboring county.

Yes. Call Legal Aid. You can find a local office here:

SSI cases are not fee generating; nor are applications for waivers of overpayments. This person probably qualifies for legal aid. Call Legal Aid; if they can’t help, they’ll have a list of additional resources.

Absolutely in agreement (and my mom worked for years for Legal Aid handing SSDI appeals). Even if Legal Aid can’t or won’t take the case, the people they refer you do are going to be competent, reputable practitioners, which is something you can’t always say for the Yellow Pages.