SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1912. Recovery by Civil Suit

1912.1 Can a civil suit be used to recover overpayments?

Yes, a civil suit can be used to recover an overpayment. A civil suit is a legal proceeding that can be filed in a Federal court of law.

1912.2 What Federal agency handles civil suits for overpayments?

Appropriate cases are referred to the Department of Justice for civil action.

1912.3 When must civil suits for overpayments be filed?

Generally, we must file a civil suit before the later of:

  1. Six years after an overpayment has been made; or

  2. One year after a final decision has been rendered in an administrative proceeding.

1912.4 Who can be sued for overpayments?

The representative payee and the beneficiary may both be sued in a civil suit if both are liable.