JUPITER, Fla. — A couple in Jupiter recently received a series of letters from the Social Security Administration alerting them that, for the past eight years, they were overpaid, and now they owe the SSA more than $70,000.
For Gloria and Antonio Castro in Jupiter, Antonio's monthly Social Security checks are a lifeline.
"We're just, we're stuck," Gloria Castro said.
It's how they pay their bills.
"I believe this is a big mistake," she said.
She is talking about two letters they recently received.
"Social Security is claiming that we have an overpayment of $36,092 point 80 cents and that they want their money back," Gloria said. "And then we got another letter on Nov. 3 claiming that he owes $34,830 and 80 cents."
Until the roughly $70,000 is paid back, the letter said, the couple will not receive payments until March 2026 at the earliest.
"He got nothing in November and now in December, it hasn't happened yet," Gloria told WPTV last month. "It's already affected us as far as we depended on that money for our rent and our car payment and other things, and it has really made a big impact."
WPTV contacted the Social Security Administration.
"Due to privacy laws, we cannot discuss individual cases," the Social Security Administration said in a statement. "However, we will reach out to Mr. and Mrs. Castro and provide any necessary assistance."
However, the Castros told WPTV that hasn't happened.
"Calling them is like trying to reach God – nobody answers or you're on hold for two to three hours and then they hang up," Gloria said. "I have faith that hopefully this will be resolved but not sure when."
The Castros contacted U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla. Since WPTV sat down with them, they said Mast's office was able to help and their payments have once again resumed. However, there is no word if they still owe the SSA all that money.
Mast sent WPTV the following statement:
"Serving my community and neighbors is among my greatest honors and I am pleased that we were able to help. I would encourage anyone having issues with the Social Security Administration, or any other federal agency, to contact my office for assistance."
According to NBC News, the SSA said it's working to improve its services, including overpayment protection. The agency said a lot of the errors are due to incorrect information in their system.
If this happens to you, experts say contacting your congressman is one of the first things you should do.
"That's what they're there for," Carl Gould, business analyst and founder of 7 Stage Advisors, said. "You need some help here, especially if the agency is determining now that they overpaid you but didn't tell you that before."
Gould also recommends going through the appeal process as soon as possible.
"Now, if possible, use an attorney or an accountant to help you appeal it," Gould said. "It puts a little bit more weight behind the appeal and they'll be, you know, professional calculations or best practices that are used to argue the appeal."