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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999


Currently, the rules for recovering overpayments of benefit are set out in Part III of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. They specify that money can be recovered when the overpayment arises because people:

  • have failed to declare a relevant change in their circumstances, or

  • have misrepresented a material fact. (Misrepresentation for this purpose can be wholly innocent.)

Section 68 provides that, despite the current provisions in that Act, certain overpayments relating to the effects of disability, or to a decision on incapacity for work, will not be recoverable.

Subsection (1) contains the general rule that overpayments covered by this section will not be recoverable.

Subsection (2) indicates that the section applies to reviews of qualifying benefits relating to a change in a person’s condition at some point in the past; that the review decision was given before 1 June 1999; and that the overpayment is not one excluded by subsection (6) (see below).

Subsections (3) and (4) indicate that the section applies only to disability and incapacity related benefits – and only where benefit entitlement has changed because of a change in the disabled person’s care or mobility needs (for Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance) or capacity for work.

So, for example, the power will not apply to overpayments that arise in situations unconnected with the application of the care and mobility tests or the All Work Test, such as entering hospital or leaving the country.

Subsection (5) gives the meaning of “review”, “the relevant person” and “the original decision” for the purposes of the section.

Subsection (6) excludes from the scope of the section any overpayment where a person has been convicted of an offence in connection with the overpayment or, in accordance with section 115A of the Administration Act, has agreed to pay a penalty as an alternative to prosecution.

Subsection (7) states that the section does not apply to any overpaid amount recovered from a person before 26 February 1999, the date of the announcement that certain overpayments would not be recovered.

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