SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home1833. Good Cause Defined

1833.1 What is good cause for failing to report an event?

“Good cause” for your failure to make a required report on time may exist if the failure was the result of:

  1. Unfavorable circumstances;

  2. Your confusion as to the law resulting from amendments to the Social Security Act or other legislation; or

  3. Misleading action on our part.

You must prove that your failure to report was for good cause and was not due to willful neglect. When we decide whether there is good cause, we consider the circumstances in each case.

1833.2 What are examples of good cause?

Below are examples good cause for failure to report. We consider evidence of failure to report due to:

  1. Your serious illness, or death or serious illness in your immediate family;

  2. In the case of an annual report, your inability to get earnings information from an employer within the time required to file the report because of:

    1. Death or serious illness of your employer or his or her immediate family;

    2. Unavoidable absence of the employer; or

    3. Destruction by fire or other damage of the employer's records;

  3. Destruction by fire or other damage of your business records;

  4. Your timely sending of the report to another governmental agency (that caused a delay in the report reaching us), if you did so in good faith;

  5. Your lack of awareness that an annual report is required in the year you reach age 70 if earnings exceeded the yearly exempt amount;

  6. Our failure to give you the reporting forms in enough time to complete and file the report, provided you made a timely request for the forms;

  7. Your belief that an extension of time granted to you by the Internal Revenue Service for filing income tax returns also applied to the Social Security annual earnings report;

  8. Your reliance on a report to us made by (or on behalf of you) you before the close of the taxable year was adequate. You believed the report provided enough information about your work to require suspension of benefits, provided the report was not later found untrue or voided; or

  9. You had a physical, mental, educational or linguistic limitation (including any lack of familiarity with the English language) that kept you from understanding the reporting responsibilities. Therefore, you did not file a timely report.

1833.3 Is good cause established if you have the same reason for failing to file a report more than once?

Generally, good cause does not exist if you fail to file a report on time for a later period under similar circumstances under which you have been found to have good cause in the past.