Dear Rusty: Things have gone good for me until now. I got a job and have enjoyed going back to work after being retired. But I just got some bad news — a letter from Social Security saying I owe them $17,000 because when I went back to work, I earned more than allowed in 2021. They never mentioned that I told them I was going back to work! They now say they can’t pay me benefits in 2022 because I am working. Good job SSA, since I told you when I went back to work! Anyway, I can’t repay them all at once, I’m lucky to buy gas to get groceries. They list items for a waiver, but I am not sure what is best for me. I was planning on moving for health reasons, but if I paid them all at once I have nothing left for the move. I just started my research on how to handle this but hoped you would have some insight. Signed: Un-retired Worker

Dear Un-retired Worker: Sorry to hear of the Overpayment Notice you have received from Social Security. Here are my thoughts: The repayment options they offered you are probably a) remit the entire amount in full or b) have your SS benefits withheld until they recover what you owe, or c) ask for special payment terms because doing either of the above is a hardship

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website ( or email us at