What happens if I get too much benefit (an overpayment)?
An overpayment of benefit happens when you are paid benefit that you are not entitled to.
An example of this is where you have not told us straightaway when you have had a change in your circumstances. Click on the "Changes in your Circumstances" link on the left for more information.
How will I know if I have been overpaid?
If you have been paid too much benefit, we will write and let you know. In the letter we will give you full details about the overpayment. We will tell you
- What caused the overpayment
- The dates and amounts of the overpayment
- How much the total overpayment is
- What to do if you disagree with the overpayment
If you have to pay back the overpayment, we will write to you again to let you know how this will be done.
Please remember that overpayments can be avoided if you tell us, and the Department for Work and Pensions immediately about any changes in your circumstances.
What situations can cause an overpayment?
There are several reasons why you may have received an overpayment of benefit
- You may have forgotten to let us know that your income has increased for example wages, state benefits or Working Families Tax Credits.
- Somebody may have moved into or out of your home.
- If you have other adults living with you their circumstances may have changed
- You may have moved and not told us
- You may have started work or changed jobs.
Please do not rely on the Job Centre Plus, The Pension Service or your landlord to tell us about changes.
If your claim is fraudulent we will recover any benefits paid to you that you were not entitled to. You may also have to pay a penalty or fine.
What if I do not agree with the overpayment?
The first thing to do when you receive your overpayment letter is read it carefully. It will contain a paragraph that will explain what the overpayment is for and the dates you have been overpaid.
If you do not agree with the overpayment after reading the explanation you can do the following
- If you do not understand the explanation you can phone, write to us or visit to request more information.
- You can appeal against the overpayment. You must do this in writing within one month of the date of the letter. (Please see our separate notes about How to Appeal)
How is the overpayment recovered?
- If you are still getting Housing Benefit we may reduce this each week by the amount shown in your letter
- If you feel the amount we are reducing you Housing Benefit by is causing you hardship, you can write and ask us to lower it. We may ask you for more details before we change the amount.
- If you stop getting Housing Benefit, we may invoice you
- If your landlord was paid your benefit we may ask the landlord to repay us if we think the landlord knew you were not entitled to the benefit (if for example you had left the landlords property)
- If you have been overpaid Council Tax Reduction we will send you a new Council Tax Bill which will include any money you have been overpaid.
Why have I had an invoice for a Housing Benefit overpayment?
This will have been explained to you in the notification letter that was sent to you a few weeks before you received the invoice.
You will probably have had an invoice because you have a recoverable overpayment of Housing Benefit which is recoverable from you, and you are not currently receiving enough/any Housing Benefit from which we can recover the overpayment
If you are not able to repay the amount in full please write or phone to discuss how you will be able to pay. The telephone number and address will be shown on the letter.