It's not unusual for a Social Security recipient to become overpaid. Often this happens because of a mistake made by the Social Security Administration. Overpaid claimants who were not at fault AND who don't have the funds to repay can ask for waiver of the overpayment. Also, if the claimant asks, overpayments under $1,000 are waived almost automatically for the sake of administrative convenience, although the field offices aren't supposed to volunteer this information to claimants. Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has done a study of field office action on overpayment waiver requests. It turns out that a high percentage of waiver requests are granted but that there are major disparities between field offices. See the charts below. I'd hazard a guess that some offices are volunteering information about administrative waivers. Is that really a wrong thing to do? Why should this be hush-hush?