Social Security Disability Benefits Payback Question
My friend, Mark, has been declared disabled due to a debilitating, terminal disease. He was advised by his doctor not to work anymore and really couldn't if he wanted to because he doesn't have the strength.
He had been on disability once before, then tried to work, worked for just short of 3 years and then once again became very ill and couldn't work. He reported to Social Security at the time that he was working and asked what he needed to do. They told him nothing, that he was allowed to work up to 3 years before any action would be taken. He continued to receive SSD checks as well as working. Shortly after he stopped working and once again applied for SSD, he received a letter stating he owed several thousands of dollars back to Social Security due to overpayment. He reminded them that he had contacted them, and they told him to continue to cash the checks, which they said they have no record of saying. He told them at this point he wasn't able to work and it was impossible to pay it back. They told him to fill out a waiver. He did, stating he did not feel the overpayment was his fault, that he had notified them and they told him to continue to cash the checks, and that he had no way of paying it back. When after several months, he heard no response to the waiver, he contacted them, and again, they said they had no record of a waiver being sent in. He again sent a waiver in. Meanwhile, he was approved once again for the SSD and finally after almost a year, last month he received his first regular check from them. Today he got a letter stating as of May 2007, they were holding his entire check to pay back what was overpaid to him previously and that this would continue with every check until January of 2010. He again contacted them and asked what he was supposed to use to support himself. The woman told him she had no answers for him. He really doesn't know what to do at this point. Can they hold his whole check for 3 years to pay back money that they erroneously gave him? Should he contact an SS lawyer? If so, does anyone have any personal experience with a good lawyer to refer him to? This friend is very dear to me. I've known him for 30+ years, and I really hate to see him having to struggle with this at this point in his life. Thanks for any help you can offer.