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Lawyers offer free assistance Central Floridians dealing with Social Security overpayment issues

ORLANDO, Fla. — For months WFTV has been telling you about problems with Social Security, as seniors across the area deal with overpayments that were not their fault.

Now, as the agency tries to claw the money back, local lawyers are stepping in to help for free.

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People like Addie Arnold were just one of many people across the country who fought the Social Security Administration for what she said was a mistake. Arnold is the sole caretaker for her mentally and physically disabled niece.

The family’s Social Security checks are the only funds coming in and in 2019 they were told they needed to pay back a $60,000 because they were overpaid.

“When they sent me a bill saying that we owe $60,000, it’s like, well, pfft, I don’t know how you get it,” Arnold said.

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So, the SSA started to withhold some of their monthly checks. After our first story aired, Arnold got some of the money back, but no reason as to why.

Arnold is one of the few who have solved their overpayment issue. Millions are still working through the system, a system where their calls go unanswered, appeals have not been heard and hope is dwindling.

Most lawyers won’t take these cases without payment up front, leaving legal aid as the only option.

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Which is why the Orange County Bar Association, along with legal services is opening time to deal with Social Security issues here in Central Florida, telling Channel 9 News, “We have received such an outpouring of people who need help with overpayment issues with social security that we are setting up free advice clinics.

Lawyers like Sarah Jacobs will help some of the millions of people who are receiving these letters and can’t get any help from the SSA as it tries to collect more than $20 billion in overpayments.

“They don’t comply with Social Security’s regulations and it’s heart wrenching when someone gets a letter saying you owe $30,000, send it to us in ten days. otherwise, we’re holding your check going forward,” Jacobs said. “That’s what these people live on.”

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Since September 9 investigates has been reporting on our company-wide investigation into these overpayments.

Since then, a new head was confirmed at the Social Security Administration and an internal investigation is underway to figure out why it’s happening and how to fix it, but still there are no answers to when the agency will get more staff, upgrade technology, or get the calculations correct.

The problem is expected to get worse before it gets better, so in the meantime these lawyers will step in.

Here is what you need to know about the clinics:

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.