An overpayment is any amount of benefit paid to someone that they were not entitled to receive.
Why overpayments happen
Overpayments can happen for different reasons. The most common are:
- we were not told about a change in circumstances such as income going up, or a non-dependant adult moving in
- we have been given incorrect information
- we may have delayed in making a decision after we have had some new information
- we made a mistake in working out benefit entitlement, usually down to human error
An overpayment can be recovered from a benefit claimant, a landlord or an agent, depending on the reason for the overpayment and who the money was paid to.
If you are overpaid
If we overpay your benefit, we will write to tell you about it as soon as we can. If the overpaid benefit was paid to a landlord we will write to them as well. The letter will explain how much the overpayment is, what period of time it covers and why it happened. We will also tell you whether or not the overpayment is recoverable and who we have decided to recover it from.
If you disagree with our decision that the overpayment is recoverable then you can:
- ask us to explain the decision
- ask us to look at the decision again
- appeal against the decision
The letter we send you will explain your rights fully and gives details of independent agencies that can help you.
Landlords can appeal this decision too, but only if we decide that they are a person who we can recover the overpayment from.
We can reduce or even clear the overpayment, if you can show us that you would still have had an entitlement to benefit if we had known your true circumstances. This is called 'underlying entitlement'.
You will need to provide evidence of your actual circumstances for the period of the overpayment, such as:
- pay slips
- bank or building society statements
- proof of a non-dependant's income
You can contact us if you're not sure what you should provide.