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SOCIAL SECURITY

How do I know if I have an unexpected Social Security deposit in 2022 with the COLA increase?

Given the payment schedule of the Social Security Administration some beneficiaries may every now and then see more than one payment per month.

Unexpected Social Security payments and what to do

The Social Security Administration has announced the 2023 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to keep benefits from losing purchasing power in the face of rising prices. High inflation over the preceding months made next year’s boost to monthly payments the highest since 1981 and the fourth biggest ever.

Depending on the month for which a payment is made, you may see two payments deposited in the same month, this isn’t a mistake just a result of how the Social Security payments schedule works. However, overpayments of Social Security can happen and the reasons can vary, but don’t fret.

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Unexpected Social Security deposits

The Social Security Administration sends benefits payments to over 70 million Americans each month, a monumental task. In order to effectuate the deposits more efficiently payments are staggered throughout each month on a schedule based on beneficiaries’ birth dates, type of benefit and/or when a beneficiary applied to begin receiving Social Security.

Those beneficiaries that receive both Supplemental Support Income (SSI) and Social Security Benefits may get paid twice a month. SSI payments are generally issued on the first of the month and Social Security payments for beneficiaries that signed up before May 1997 or that also receive SSI are usually deposited on the fourth of the month.

However, depending on the month those deposits could fall on the same day. Should either the first or the third fall on a Saturday, Sunday or a federal holiday the payments are moved forward. This results in SSI payments sometimes being paid in the month prior to the one for which they are made.

In 2022, this was scheduled to happen for SSI payments in April, September and December. It will happen four times in 2023, occurring in March, June, September and December. The second SSI payment in December each year will may be higher than the first depending on the Social Security Administration’s calculation for their monthly benefit.

With the 8.7 percent COLA increase in 2023, eligible individuals will have a new monthly maximum federal SSI amount of $914, an increase of $73 over 2022. The maximum amount for eligible couples will jump $110 to $1,371.

Social Security overpayments

The common situations whereby an overpayment may be made is that a beneficiary fails to provide the Social Security Administration with information that could change the monthly amount they are entitled to receive. This is especially the case with those receiving SSI and disability benefits (SSDI).

Both programs have different rules creating separate situations in which a beneficiary could receive money that they were not eligible to receive. However, one factor they have in common is that beneficiaries need to report their wages. This needs to be done within the first 6 days of the calendar month to reduce the chances of overpayments occurring.

Intentionally withholding information from the Social Security Administration is no laughing matter either, doing so to continue receiving payments could result in criminal prosecution. In any event, the Social Security Administration will send a letter informing you if their has been an overpayment. If you feel there was a mistake on the agency’s part you can check your the payments you’ve received by contacting the agency or checking online and appeal the overpayment decision. Should you have to repay the surplus money you received you can arrange to pay it back through installments.

There are several ways to contact the Social Security Administration, but the fastest and easiest way for most is to use the online portal. If you want to use the “my Social Security” app, SSA telephone service or mobile app to report your wages, the agency advises to call your local field office and speak to a representative.