§ 416.554. Waiver of adjustment or recovery—against equity and good conscience.

We will waive adjustment or recovery of an overpayment when an individual on whose behalf waiver is being considered is without fault (as defined in § 416.552) and adjustment or recovery would be against equity and good conscience. Adjustment or recovery is considered to be against equity and good conscience if an individual changed his or her position for the worse or relinquished a valuable right because of reliance upon a notice that payment would be made or because of the incorrect payment itself. In addition, adjustment or recovery is considered to be against equity and good conscience for an individual who is a member of an eligible couple that is legally separated and/or living apart for that part of an overpayment not received, but subject to recovery under § 416.570.

Example 1:  Upon being notified that he was eligible for supplemental security income payments, an individual signed a lease on an apartment renting for $15 a month more than the room he had previously occupied. It was subsequently found that eligibility for the payment should not have been established. In such a case, recovery would be considered “against equity and good conscience.”

Example 2:  An individual fails to take advantage of a private or organization charity, relying instead on the award of supplemental security income payments to support himself. It was subsequently found that the money was improperly paid. Recovery would be considered “against equity and good conscience.”

Example 3:  Mr. and Mrs. Smith—members of an eligible couple—separate in July. Later in July, Mr. Smith receives earned income resulting in an overpayment to both. Mrs. Smith is found to be without fault in causing the overpayment. Recovery from Mrs. Smith of Mr. Smith's part of the couple's overpayment is waived as being against equity and good conscience. Whether recovery of Mr. Smith's portion of the couple's overpayment can be waived will be evaluated separately.

[60 FR 16375, Mar. 30, 1995]