§ 404.511. When an individual is at “fault” in a deduction overpayment.

(a) Degree of care. An individual will not be without fault if the Administration has evidence in its possession which shows either a lack of good faith or failure to exercise a high degree of care in determining whether circumstances which may cause deductions from his benefits should be brought to the attention of the Administration by an immediate report or by return of a benefit check. The high degree of care expected of an individual may vary with the complexity of the circumstances giving rise to the overpayment and the capacity of the particular payee to realize that he is being overpaid. Accordingly, variances in the personal circumstances and situations of individual payees are to be considered in determining whether the necessary degree of care has been exercised by an individual to warrant a finding that he was without fault in accepting a deduction overpayment.

(b) Subsequent deduction overpayments. The Social Security Administration generally will not find an individual to be without fault where, after having been exonerated for a “deduction overpayment” and after having been advised of the correct interpretation of the deduction provision, the individual incurs another “deduction overpayment” under the same circumstances as the first overpayment. However, in determining whether the individual is without fault, the Social Security Administration will consider all of the pertinent circumstances surrounding the prior and subsequent “deduction overpayments,” including any physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitations (including any lack of facility with the English language) which the individual may have.

[16 FR 13054, Dec. 28, 1951, as amended at 59 FR 1634, Jan. 12, 1994]