Imagine this: you apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. After a long waiting period, you finally receive a favorable decision on your claim. You are excited and eager to receive the much-needed income, but then discover the monthly amount is less than you expected. Why?!?!?
There are many reasons why your monthly amount could be reduced, but the most common reason is usually called offsetting. Offsetting is the process the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to reduce, or offset, the monthly amount owed to you based upon past debts you owe or other benefits you are currently receiving. The SSA has determined the maximum total monthly amount of combined benefits an individual is permitted to receive under federal law. If you receive more money than the applicable limit, or if you owe a debt to certain governmental agencies, SSA will offset your monthly disability benefits.
What is the Treasury Offset Program (TOP)?
The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) is an agency established to maintain and collect debts under applicable laws, and is administered by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Debt Management Services. TOP is a centralized offset program that collects delinquent debts owed to federal and state agencies.
If you owe certain governmental agencies any amount of money greater than $25, that governmental agency will submit this debt to TOP. TOP maintains the debt information in its database and informs the SSA of debts you may owe. For example, let’s say you are awarded monthly disability benefits, but it is discovered that you owe past-due taxes to the IRS. TOP will maintain that debt information, notify the SSA of the debt owed, and legally intercept some of your monthly benefits until the debt is fully satisfied.
Once SSA is made aware of your alleged debts, offsetting of your disability benefits will occur automatically, and you will receive a notice in the mail explaining the reason for the offset. There are limited grounds to appeal the offsetting, and it’s very important to appeal within the stated deadline if you disagree with the offsetting.
How do I Know if I Owe Money to TOP?
If you suspect you owe any delinquent debt, you may verify your status with TOP. You can request information about your nontax debt by calling 800-304-3107. A TOP representative will be able to give you information about the existence of any alleged debt owed.
Do You Need Legal Advice from an Experienced Social Security Attorney?
It can be a challenge to navigate the SSA rules and regulations, but you don’t have to go at it alone. When dealing with such circumstances, it is to your advantage to seek legal advice from a skilled social security attorney. With such an advocate in your corner, you will push toward a positive outcome for your legal case.
Whitcomb, Selinsky, McAuliffe, PC has demonstrated skill and experience dealing with SSDI, SSI, and related matters. If you need legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance. You can reach the attorneys at Whitcomb, Selinsky, McAuliffe, PC by phone at 866-476-4558 (toll free) and 303-534-1958 (toll) or online by completing a simple form on our website.