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An overpayment occurs when benefit is paid and there is no longer an entitlement to it, or your circumstances change so you are no longer entitled to the same amount of benefit that you were receiving.
How can you stop overpayments happening
You must tell us of any change that will affect your benefit entitlement as soon as you can. Information on the changes to report and how to report them can be found in Reporting a change in circumstances.
If you are unsure if your change in circumstances will create an overpayment still tell us straight away.
How we work out the amount of recoverable overpayment
The amount of a recoverable overpayment is:
- The amount of benefit actually paid over the period of the overpayment; less
- Any amount of benefit that should have been paid over part or all of the same period
We will write to you if we need information to work out the benefit you should have been paid.
You have one month from the date of our letter to provide the information we need.
If you do not provide the information we need we will recover the full amount of benefit paid for the overpayment period.
Recovering the overpayment
We can recover all overpayments, except certain Housing Benefit cases due to official error. However, an official error overpayment can be recovered if:
- You, or someone acting on your behalf, or the person receiving the payment, could reasonably have been expected to realise that an overpayment was taking place at the time of payment or upon receipt of any notification relating to the payment.
How you will be asked to repay the overpayment
If you still have an entitlement to Housing Benefit, repayment will be made from your ongoing benefit entitlement until the full amount is recovered.
If the repayment amount causes you hardship you can ask for it to be reduced. However, you will have to provide details of your income and expenditure in order to see if we will agree to the reduced amount.
If you are no longer entitled to Housing Benefit we may:
- Send an invoice for the overpaid amount.
- Recover a weekly amount from any welfare benefits you receive.
- Recover an amount from your earnings under a Direct Earnings Attachment.
Any Council Tax Support overpayment will be added to your Council Tax account and a revised bill will be sent to you.
Further advice and guidance