Is It True That My Wife Was Overpaid?

Dec 20 2016 - 9:45am

My wife turned 66 in April 2016, and I turned 68 in April 2016. We applied for social security retirement in June 2016.
My ss to start in August as I wanted. We were told by ss at the time of application on the phone(they phoned us after we applied on line)
They informed us that my wife would only get half of what my total was based on her birthday of April 2016 and never a higher amount.
They offered to back pay her for April, May and June at half of what I would have received in April 2016. And continue my wifes at that same rate after those 3 months.
They did. Now they want the amount she was paid back , in a letter to her that sights the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which they say was an error saying"you cannot receive wife benefit's if your husband is in suspense to earn a higher benefit" I had no idea I suspended anything as I was just waiting since I had for many years. They sent me a print out that says I suspended. I presume the clerk did that . I do not remember. I had no idea and if I suspended it was because they told me to do that when they offered to backdate my wifes half payment. Are they correct and should I pay them back? I can find no professional any help for ss retirement payments anywhere. So I am on my own. I can afford to pay them back but hope they are wrong since I do not understand how I suspended. I went to local office earlier this summer and they said okay to me. Then in November another letter comes and says we still need to pay back as it was in error. We can appeal of course but should I ?
Or am I likely wasting my time.
Thankyou

Hi,

Unfortunately, if you didn't file your claim until June 2016, your wife can't be paid spousal benefits on your record for any months that you aren't also drawing your benefits. This is due to the new law passed by Congress last year (https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/suspendfaq.html). If you had filed for and suspended your benefits prior to April 30 2016, then your wife would have been able to draw spousal benefits even for the months that your benefits were in suspense.

So, even though this was clearly Social Security's mistake, it sounds like the notice of overpayment that your wife received is correct. If you were financially unable to repay the overpayment you could apply for waiver (https://faq.ssa.gov/link/portal/34011/34019/Article/3810/What-can-I-do-i...), but you've indicated that's not the case. I can't advise you whether or not to file an appeal, but based on your description of events, it sounds like an appeal is unlikely to be approved.

Best, Jerry