Although Social Security Administration (SSA) can make incorrect payments to recipients of retirement, disability, or survivors’ benefits, these mistakes are rare. In the event that you receive an extra payment from SSA in addition to your usual monthly benefits payments, it can be helpful to know why and what you need to do about it, if anything.
As an initial matter, if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there is a good chance you are eligible for the stimulus payment currently being provided by the federal government. These payments are for a maximum of $600 per adult and qualifying child and have already started going out to those who are eligible. The payments will continue to be made through mid-January.
Unlike the stimulus payments made earlier in 2020, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has said that this round of payments will be sent the same way you get your other federal benefits. Therefore, if you normally get your monthly payments deposited directly into your bank account or onto a Direct Express debit card, that is also how you will receive your stimulus payments.
If your extra payment is not the result of federal stimulus funds, it could be that an automated process within SSA’s systems resulted in an adjustment that affected your benefit rate. Or, SSA realized that you have been underpaid in the past and needs to fix its mistake. These adjustments sometimes result in backpay that you are owed but did not receive previously. In these scenarios, SSA usually provides a standalone one-time payment rather than adding backpay incrementally to subsequent monthly benefits.
Within two weeks of your receipt of the additional payment, SSA should provide you written notice by mail with an explanation. If two weeks have passed since you received the extra benefits, contact SSA.
If you think that you were overpaid, call SSA right away to make sure it was not an accident. Failure to make SSA aware of an erroneous overpayment could result in months of incorrect payments that you will be responsible for paying back eventually.
You should also contact SSA immediately if you think you have been underpaid. Underpayments are usually the result of a clerical or computation error with respect to SSA’s record of your earnings history. SSA will investigate your case, and, if you are correct, the agency will compensate you for any underpayments either in a lump-sum payment or by increasing your monthly payments going forward.