A benefit overpayment is when you are given more money than you are entitled to. This may happen if we don’t know your circumstances have changed.

In most cases, we will expect you to pay back any money you were not entitled to.

This may be by:

  • an invoice
  • reducing your weekly benefit entitlement until the overpaid amount has been cleared.

If you cannot pay the invoice in full or are finding it difficult to meet the differenceplease contact us. We may be able to set up an affordable payment instalment plan.

To reduce the chance of an overpayment occurring, make sure you tell the benefit department about any changes in your circumstances immediately.

What is a recoverable overpayment?

All overpayments are recoverable - unless caused by an 'official error'. This means you could not reasonably have known about it when you were paid or told about your benefit.

What is an 'official error'?

Official errors include mistakes by us, Job Centre Plus or The Pension Service. It is not an official error if you, or a person acting for you, caused the mistake by: 

  • not giving us information
  • giving false or misleading information

What can you do if you disagree with the overpayment?

If you want to know more about a decision or think it’s wrong, get in touch with us. You must do this within 1 month of the date of your notification letter.

You can:

  • ask for an explanation
  • ask us to look at the decision again
  • appeal against the decision (this must be done in writing)

The things you can challenge are:

  • if we can recover the overpayment or not
  • who we can recover it from
  • how we have worked it out

Things you cannot challenge are:

Can the overpayment be reduced?

If you tell us about your correct circumstances throughout the period of the overpayment, we may be able to reduce the amount you were overpaid. This is called 'underlying entitlement'.

Before we can work out whether you should get any underlying entitlement, we may ask you to fill out a new form to explain your circumstances. We may ask for evidence of your actual income and capital for the overpayment period. You need to supply this information within 1 month of the notice of overpayment.

If we decide you should get some underlying entitlement, we can only reduce the amount of the overpayment. We cannot give you more benefit than the original amount of overpayment.

Pay for your Benefit overpayment

Independent advice