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Benefit overpayments

benefit overpayments
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There are many reasons why benefits may be overpaid. Mistakes at the benefit office are not unknown, perhaps you didn’t realise that a change in circumstances would affect your claim. If you’ve been contacted about a benefits overpayment or think you may have been overpaid, this article explains what will happen next.

When you should contact the benefits office

When your circumstances change, for example; if you take on more hours at work or a partner moves in with you, you should tell the benefits office straight away in case it affects what you are entitled to claim. You should also get in touch if you believe you have been overpaid. If you’ve received a letter saying you’ve been overpaid it should tell you who to contact, whether you should write or call. You must contact the office within one month of receiving the letter if you think it is wrong and wish to appeal.

Benefit fraud

If you deliberately DON’T inform the benefits office about a change in your circumstance, if you receive a number of overpayments and don’t report them, you may be accused of benefit fraud. Your benefits will be stopped until the investigation is completed, you may be taken to court or issued a hefty fine. You’ll also have to repay any overpayments that were made to you. If you are convicted of benefit fraud, your benefits can be stopped or reduced for up to three years following the conviction.

Repayment

benefit overpaymentsIn most cases, especially if the overpayment was a result of an error on your part or if you’ve received a number of overpayments, you’ll be expected to repay the full amount that has been overpaid. This will usually be taken out of your future benefit in instalments, until the amount has been paid back. Alternatively, you’ll have to send the money to the Department for Work and Pensions either by bank transfer, Direct Debit or cheque. Payment plans can usually be arranged to spread the payments over a set period of time.

Mandatory reconsideration

You have the right to appeal if you disagree with the decision that you’ve been overpaid benefits. In the first instance, you should request a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of your case. This has to be done within a month of receiving notification, without this you cannot appeal. You should write to the department that has sent you the letter and ask for a mandatory reconsideration. In your letter, you should explain why you believe the decision is wrong; include any evidence you have that will back you up. Once the decision has been reconsidered, you’ll be sent another letter detailing whether or not the decision has been changed. If you’re still not happy you must contact the office within one month to appeal to the tribunal.

Appeal

You can appeal either by writing a letter or by filling out a form. There are different forms for different benefits, these are available to download online. When you appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal, a judge will hear both sides of the argument and come to a decision. You can attend a hearing, or have the decision made based on your application and any supporting evidence you’ve submitted. You will receive the judge’s decision either at the hearing or through the post.

 

 

 

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About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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