Social Security Overpayments

November 13, 2013

The Social Security Administration is overpaying big sums of money to disability beneficiaries — and lawyers, consumer advocates and watchdogs say the agency’s own missteps are to blame.

Long after notifying Social Security that they have either started working again or earn too much income to qualify for benefits, some disability recipients continue to receive payments for months or even years. It’s not until a notice from Social Security shows up that they discover they now owe tens of thousands of dollars to the agency due to these overpayments.  Receiving a notice from the Social Security Administration stating that huge sums of money are owed is a terrifying experience.

The Government Accountability Office [GAO], which oversees the Social Security Administration, says that budget constraints and huge backlogs of people applying for disability have delayed the reviews of income information that alert the agency to remove beneficiaries who no longer qualify. As a result, the Social Security Administration has made $1.3 billion in overpayments in just two years, according to a recent GAO audit.

We think that they need to devote more resources to this,” said Steve Lord, director of forensic audits and investigative services at the GAO. “Right now getting people off the [disability] rolls is secondary — they have to balance their resources between getting people off the rolls and getting people on the rolls.”


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