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Social Security Announces Four Key Updates to Address Improper Payments

March 20, 2024 • By

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Last Updated: March 20, 2024

Social Security Administration SealSocial Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley today announced he is taking four vital steps to immediately address overpayment issues customers and the agency have experienced. Commissioner O’Malley testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance (excerpt):

“For 88 years, the hard-working employees of the Social Security Administration have strived to pay the right amount, to the right person, at the right time. And the agency has done this with a high degree of accuracy over a massive scale of beneficiaries. But despite our best efforts, we sometimes get it wrong and pay beneficiaries more than they are due, creating an overpayment.

When that happens, Congress requires that we make every effort to recover those overpaid benefits. But doing so without regard to the larger purpose of the program can result in grave injustices to individuals, as we see from the stories of people losing their homes or being put in dire financial straits when they suddenly see their benefits cut off to recover a decades-old overpayment, or disability beneficiaries attempting to work and finding their efforts rewarded with large overpayments. Innocent people can be badly hurt. And these injustices shock our shared sense of equity and good conscience as Americans.

We are continually improving how we serve the millions of people who depend on our programs, although we have room for improvement, as media reports last fall revealed. We have also embarked upon a deep dive into the extent of the overpayment problem at Social Security, the root causes of these administrative errors, and the steps we can take as an agency to address these individual injustices.

Our deeper understanding of the complexities of this problem has set us on the following course of action:

  1. Starting next Monday, March 25, we will be ceasing the heavy-handed practice of intercepting 100 percent of an overpaid beneficiary’s monthly Social Security benefit by default if they fail to respond to our demand for repayment. Moving forward, we will now use a much more reasonable default withholding rate of 10 percent of monthly benefits — similar to the current rate in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
  2. We will be reframing our guidance and procedures so that the burden of proof shifts away from the claimant in determining whether there is any evidence that the claimant was at fault in causing the overpayment.
  3. For the vast majority of beneficiaries who request to work out a repayment plan, we recently changed our policy so that we will approve repayment plans of up to 60 months. To qualify, Social Security beneficiaries would only need to provide a verbal summary of their income, resources, and expenses, and recipients of the means-tested SSI program would not need to provide even this summary. This change extended this easier repayment option by an additional two years (from 36 to 60 months).
  4. And finally, we will be making it much easier for overpaid beneficiaries to request a waiver of repayment, in the event they believe themselves to have been without any fault and/or without the ability to repay.

Implementing these policy changes — with proper education and training across the people, policies, and systems of the agency — is an important but complex shift. And we are undertaking that shift with urgency, diligence, and speed.

I look forward to working with Members to discuss ideas that could address the root causes of overpayments.”

Social Security launched a comprehensive review in October 2023 of agency overpayment policies and procedures to address payment accuracy systematically. Learn about Overpayments and Our Process on our website. These changes are a direct result of the ongoing review.  Additionally, the agency recently announced it is working to reduce wage-related improper payments by using its legal authority to establish information exchanges with payroll data providers that will significantly reduce the number of improper payments, once implemented.  The agency will continue examining programmatic policy and making regulatory and sub-regulatory changes to improve the overpayment process. More details on these updates will be shared as they become available.

To watch the testimony and read Commissioner O’Malley Statement for the Record, visit Keeping Our Promise to Older Adults and | Senate Committee On Aging.

 

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  1. Mary K.

    I had applied for disability 2014 had two attorneys about15 case managers ad had appealled to the federal courtin 2019. Case was accepted and transfered to different court put on the docket and assigned a magistrate judge . Issued a stay due to covid received all correspondences from and to through us mail. Motion to dismiss in Oct and opposition to motion was not adequate and given more time to redo.again all correspondences through us mail and pacer. Case dismissed Jan 2021 due to late filing. Even though that was okayd by another judge. No notification sent to me through mail. Found out when ss reopened in 2022 that it was dismissed and told to refile notice of dismissals sent to emails which were not mine. Reported to ss told maybe it was delayed in mail I reapplied because I had no one helping me or trying to show guidance it was approved. I lost all my back pay and the date I refilled is date used ut the date on new app was jan 2021 no one helped with anything even made a joke about mail backlog noone is helping poor people with barriers they are robbing them of basic. Needs and money that they are entitled to 40 years I work and get robbed by my goverment

    Reply
  2. Paul S.

    I am wondering if there is a certain process that you go to to see if your present health conditions make me feel like I may be eligible for a payout amount. Please let me know. Thanks please text me if possible with any information available regarding this.

    Reply
  3. Ielena L.

    A similar thing happened to me It was not paid.I had every right in 16 years to completely Another payment for my disability.Tried to check and count many times But they always refused me.I started in 2008 with $ 600 and for 16 years old with many chronic diseases I get $ 996.Which person can survive on this money?My health is getting worse And I don’t believe that someday I can squeeze Old age is worthy.Sorry if you shouldn’t have taken your time.

    Reply
    • Gerry E.

      I know at first I was getting 332.50 a month they was real nice and raised it to 382.50 and I haven’t received my back benefits from 2018 I’ve been following a file for disability in 2012 and I got it in 2022 and they were supposed to go back with my benefits to 2018 I haven’t seen that benefit as far as 332.50 I have no clue how they figure somebody’s supposed to live off of that or anything at that I’ve been trying to find some help on it ever since in the agency that I call does not respond in no good way they always tell me anything working on it and I don’t know anybody’s ever got back pain I mean they always got your back benefits but you know maybe some will change you know anything that I could do to make something happen I’m hoping for it and suggestions thank you

      Reply
  4. Gina C.

    hi, this is all good for the people who have to start this “overpayment” journey, but what about the people who have suffered, and are still suffering from the effects of the misuse of Authority, and what i think, is just out & out Embezzlement. Because, when they “SAY” (& believe me when I say it was a lie) they’ve overpaid many of us, well that money went somewhere, so where could it be? Embezzled by crooked workers etc….
    Because of this I was ordered 2 allow them 2 take $200.00, monthly from my check. Then 6 months & $1200.oo later, they stopped my benefits completely for 32 months. At which time, i had 2 reapply etc….. i was forced again 2 jump thru hoops etc… but when I was contacted by the SSA worker 2 arrange for my checks to be deposited etc…. i was told i would receive $6000.oo up front. well what a joke. all i got of MY $6000.oo was some little $345.oo, because they kept the rest stating in a letter that followed, that i owed $5653.oo with no mention of the 6 months worth of $200.oo which totaled $1200.oo that they should have subtracted from their version of of a $5653.oo overpayment that i didnt receive to begin with.
    Honestly, i feel as tho I’ve been Robbed by the SSA. Don’t they care about us at all? i guess not. I was in such need, and i still am. i needed that $6000.oo for insurance, smog and registration plus a set of tires for my vehicle. im completely disabled and cannot walk. That vehicle is my only means of transportation and the only way I have to help myself feel relief of any kind. but needless 2 say, once again the SSA people have taken the possibility of my being able to take care of myself at least, and its not asking much. just 2 be able 2 drive myself around and get 2 the grocery store etc….. all because of their greedy, lying, misuse of power and Authority. Because when they take away your only source of income, you can cry, beg, and do whatever you want, and it doesn’t matter 2 them or anybody, that you don’t deserve that kind of disrespectful cruelty, or that you are suffering beyond what They could handle and maintain a life through such dire circumstances. But its what it does to a person deep inside 2 feel so useless, helpless, and disposable. Like Worthless.
    I truly tried to get a job so i would never be at their mercy again. But in all that 32 months, Nobody would hire me. So i finally had 2 reapply. Just before my last surgery. And now after they kept my $6000.oo i had an $8000.oo electric bill. i could’ve taken care of my vehicle issues and paid the rest on my bills. But if i were somebody else, i guess I would just be able to do something stupid and illegal or something, cuz im sorry 2 say that my Grandmother would be turning in her grave.
    im not sure if anybody who has the ability to help anybody out here who has experienced these kinds of problems or not. But I just wanted 2 know what if anything are they gonna do 2 help those of us who have been through this with them already and if anyone can help me be reimbursed at least that initial $1200.oo that they neglected 2 credit me from that supposed overpayment that I never had 2 begin with.

    Reply
    • Miss M.

      You should call those greedy evil tricks up and tell them that you have financial.problems. Or you can go online if possible fill out those scrappy fight fir your money form call RECONSIDERATION so you won’t have to pay anything back! It’s a damn shame that everybody treated like this with our OWN MONEY. Perhaps if our last name been Ukraine ir Migrant we eould have been treated with far more dignity.

      Reply
    • Joanna L.

      Similar situation here? Don’t give up on what’s YOUR’S. Keep calling your local agency. Don’t get emotional and try to stay factual!!! Good Luck and God Bless

      Reply
  5. Dena R.

    My son received overpayment at the end of 2021. SSA started the process of putting his benefits under his SS from under mine. Through the whole process I had to resend in YEARS of paystubs that had already been faxed in every two weeks. They CONTINUED to tell me that they would not change his benefits unless it would benefit my son. So when we received a check in the mail, I thought it must have benefited him. Next day I called SSA to ask about the check and was told the it was money due to my son because of the switch to his social security. When I received another small amount I again called and told them about BOTH CHECKS, both times I was told the money was owed to him. A year and a half later I received the 1st overpayment letter. Called and was told to complete documents, i completed both waiver and appeal since I was not getting any help. It is now end of March 2024 and now they want the whole amount. They want a meeting in two weeks. They have had since the end of 2021 to make their case and they are giving me 2 weeks. When I called and asked for the calls to be pulled when I called twice after receiving check, will call her GAYLE @ SSA Overpayment #, SAID to me, “that is not how it works. We do not keep calls and that is not how I handle my cases. I was EXTREMELY calm the whole time I was on the phone with GAYLE, she on the other hand was combative, rude, and argumentative. She said I am not going to argue with you, I just said, “I am asking question for my case, very calming. I am not arguing with you, but you are being rude to me.” It is unbelievable to me. I did everything right. Calling TWICE!! I was told by Micheal that if the two people I called and spoke to about the check would have done a bit more research they would have seen that we were only owed around (he gave me a specific amount), not the amount we got. Now I have to pay for an attorney to prove that we can not repay and it was not our fault. I understand everyone makes mistakes BUT 1st mistake – the wrong amount sent out, someone entered the wrong amount somewhere!
    2nd mistake – my 1st call asking why we received the check!
    3rd mistake – the second call asking why again. Neither time did the employee look into it any further than reading a damn screen that had the same letter attached to the check, we owe you the money.
    This was not our mistake. And when I call and finally, (yes finally because I was hung up on six times saying we are too busy, call back another time after being on hold for 15 mins – to 40 mins. for each of the six calls) and get Gayle she was a complete BLANK! I just can not believe that it is ok for their employees to act like this. I am so frustrated with the time, energy, etc you have to waste to be treated like a piece of crap.

    Reply
    • Sue

      We’re sorry to hear about your experience, Dena. For your son’s security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. To learn about the most recent updates to our overpayment recovery process, please read our blog. We encourage you to continue to work with your local Social Security office. You can ask to speak with a supervisor on your next call or visit. You can also submit feedback by visiting our How can we help? webpage. From there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email Our Support Team” form where you can submit a complaint, compliment, or suggestion. We hope this is resolved soon.

      Reply

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