While you may not have had any criminal intent in what you did, that does not mean the post office will agree that not properly reporting her death and returning the benefits would be considered theft of benefits. That being said, they do not generally prosecute the cases when a reasonable repayment plan is agreed upon, but you will have to contact them regarding the repayment plan and negotiate with them as to what they will except. The payments are generally not as low as many people may like (they are not going to take $50 or even $100 a month) and they expect substantial payments to pay off the overpayment (generally to pay off the debt in 6 months or less). If they do charge you with the benefit theft each payment you took can be a separate count and this means up to 5 years in prison for each payment you improperly received.
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