You are now leaving the Turn2us site. Turn2us is not responsible for content on third party sites.

Benefits Overpayment - Will I have to repay the overpayment?

Guide to Benefits Overpayments, what they are, why they happen and what you should do if you have been overpaid

Will I have to repay the overpayment?

This guide does not apply to overpayments of Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) or New Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). If you have been overpaid any of these benefits, please use our guide on Overpayments under the Universal Credit system.

For benefits other than under the Universal Credit system and Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support, overpayments are only recoverable if they were caused by you misrepresenting or failing to disclose a relevant fact. These benefits include:

  • Income Support

  • JSA (but not New Style JSA),

  • ESA (but not New Style ESA),

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

If you have an overpayment of Housing Benefit, use our page on Housing Benefit Overpayments.

If you have an overpayment of Universal Credit, New Style ESA or New Style JSA, use our page on Overpayments under the Universal Credit system

If you have an overpayment of tax credits, use our Tax credits overpayment guide.


Misrepresentation means that you have given information that is not correct or is incomplete. It may happen when you:

  • Make a claim for benefit by telephone or on a claim form

  • Fill in a form or write a letter or sign a document

  • Speak to someone at a benefit office.

The benefits office might decide that it was misrepresentation if you gave wrong information on a claim form and the award has always been incorrect.

To avoid misrepresentation, make sure that you:

  • Answer questions that the benefit office asks you correctly, checking your facts first if unsure

  • Do not ignore questions

  • Check that information is correct before you sign any form

  • Check the decision letter you receive when benefit is awarded.

Failure to disclose

A failure to disclose might apply to an award of benefit that has become incorrect because you either failed to:

  • Give accurate and complete information that you were asked to give, or

  • Report a change of circumstances that you could have reasonably been expected to know might affect your benefit.

Failure to disclose may happen where you:

  • Make a claim for benefit or complete a form

  • Speak to someone at a benefit office

  • Do not report a change which you could reasonably be expected to know affects your benefit.

To avoid failure to disclose, make sure you:

  • Answer all questions the benefits office ask you accurately and completely

  • Read all letters from the benefit office

  • Read leaflets sent to you about your benefits

  • Note the changes that you must report

  • Report any changes which you think may affect your benefit.

What if I did not misrepresent or fail to disclose?

If the benefits office decides that the overpayment was not caused by your misrepresentation or failure to disclose, the overpayment will not be recoverable and you cannot be made to repay it.

No civil penalty can be imposed if the overpayment is not recoverable.

However, even if an overpayment is not recoverable, the benefits office may ask in their letter whether you want to pay it back anyway. If this happens, seek advice from a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

Please note: Your duty to report changes of circumstances is set out in the letters awarding benefit to you. If, for some reason, you were not notified of your obligations, an overpayment may not be recoverable.

For example, if you are visually impaired and asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide letters and leaflets about your benefits in large print but you only ever received letters in ordinary text. You may be able to argue you were not properly notified of your obligations to report specific changes of circumstances.

Will I always have to repay if I misrepresented or failed to disclose?

Even if an overpayment is recoverable, the benefits office can decide not to seek recovery or may accept partial recovery.

You can ask the debt recovery centre not to recover or to accept a lower rate of repayment. They are unlikely to agree unless you can show that you did not know that you were being overpaid and that it is very difficult for you to repay. You should contact the office shown on the letter you have received about the overpayment recovery to discuss this. We also recommend that you seek advice from a benefits adviser. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local one.

Can I be made to repay my partner’s overpayment?

Overpaid benefits can only be recovered from the person whose misrepresentation or failure to disclose caused the overpayment and cannot usually be recovered from anyone other than the claimant.

If, however, you or your partner are overpaid the following benefits and you were a couple at the time of the overpayment, it may be recovered from either partner's ongoing benefit as long as you remain a couple:

Seek advice from a benefits adviser if you are asked to repay your former partner’s overpaid benefit. You can find an adviser near you using our Find an Adviser tool

Anything wrong with this page?

Tell us the problem

Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter what you were doing
Please enter what you'd like to report
Please enter the security code shown

Thank you

If you would like to tell us more please visit our contact page

European Union (EU) Settled Status Form

European Union (EU) Settled Status

Waiting to hear? Missed the deadline? Read our guide to find out what you need to do next.

Find out about European Union (EU) Settled Status

Check benefit entitlement

Find out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, including tax credits.

Use the Benefits Calculator

Grants Search

Search our database of grant-giving organisations

Search for grants

Find a Local Adviser

Search for your nearest sources of information and advice

Find an Local Adviser