Do I have to pay back disability payments that I received due to a bookkeeping error?

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Do I have to pay back disability payments that I received due to a bookkeeping error?

I have been getting disability payments from my job for some time. I was told today that my disability benefits ran out 4 months ago but due to a bookkeeping error, they paid me for the last 3 months. Now they are asking for the money back even though it was their error. I don’t have the money as I spent it on cost of living. Do they have any legal right to force me to pay them back?

Asked on April 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be forced to repay the money. An error does not give you the right to keep the money, any more than someone else could have cashed and kept your disability checks (or paychecks) if they were addressed to the wrong person, or cash and keep a check you were sending to your child or grandchild if you dropped it in the wrong envelop. Just as, in those cases, you'd be entitled to get the money back, so in this case, must you return the money to which you had no right or entitlement, but which simply came into your possession due to an error.

You probably should try to propose a repayment plan that you could meet, rather than wait for them to sue you and get a judgment requiring immediate payment of the full amount.


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