General

Social Security Announces Four Key Updates to Address Improper Payments

March 20, 2024 • By

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

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.

 

Did you find this Information helpful?

Yes
No
Thanks for your feedback!

Tags: ,

See Comments

About the Author

Comments

Please review our Comment Policy before leaving a comment.

  1. Donna W.

    Availability to submit forms/information online at the My Social Security website would help eliminate overpayments. It took 6-8 weeks to have required information processed
    that was submitted by mail. This caused an overpayment from SSA.

    Reply
    • Sue

      We’re sorry to hear of your experience, Donna. We appreciate your comments.  You can submit your feedback to us 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 your suggestion, compliment, or complaint. Thank you!

       

      Reply
  2. Miron R.

    I was awarded present, future and ” retroactive ” workers compensation benefits by an administrative law judge after receiving SSDI benefits because of a third party litigation and ” lien ” placed on the recovery by the workers compensation insurance, the retroactive amount was satisfied by the third party lien amount . Social security in addition to applying the offset to present and future indemnity WC payments also applied the offset to the ” retroactive amount satisfied via a credit to the employer by the third party lien ” causing an overpayment..now I am fighting to have it corrected because they denied my waver request and is garnishing all of my monthly disability payments.
    The local office refused to afford me due process by explaining and showing me just how the lien and litigation expense from the third party litigation applied to my SSDI benefits….when asked, one of the Supervisors in the virgin Islands Social security office was very rude and closed the shutter in my face .

    Reply
    • Leroy J.

      The SSA is just as corrupt and inept as any other government agency. Run by idiots and criminals.

      Reply
    • Sue

      We’re sorry to hear about your situation, Miron. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We have forwarded your comments to our colleagues in the New York Region. To request a lower overpayment recovery rate, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. To learn about recent updates in the overpayment recovery process, please read our blog and press release. We hope this is resolved soon.

      Reply
  3. Ann S.

    The Social Security Administration is a POVERTY PROGRAM and recipients and enlisted Individuals are exactly that.. POOR. No way does it sound reasonable for anyone to pay back any sum of money if they’re not allowed to have a total of 2,000 USD in assets and that includes the amount of food in their possession.

    Social Security Administration misconduct/nefarious activities and 2020 Overpayment Payment Center Cases Removals/Clearing (wasteful spending during recovery and oppressive nefarious practice 2020 Overpayment Payment center Cases of non recipients).
    PLEASE FORWARD TO SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION COMMISSIONER MARTIN O’MALLEY
    MISCONDUCT
    SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION is being RANSACKED FROM WITHIN by their very own OIG, CDI PROGRAM UNIT, overseers, contractors and affiliates who are involved in nefarious activities. They are intentionally causing financial hardships, blocking all types of income so you can’t progress, poisoning people by giving them unknown substance without their knowledge by threatening and paying someone who usually would have access to your nutrition to put these things into your food and beverages. They intentionally block all opportunities for income and also online sources of income, so don’t think being an online trader will work, and isolate the recipient/ex-recipient. All this while they threaten and pay people “to not say anything” it’s a secret” “they’re not suppose to know” ” don’t tell them”.
    THEY INTENTIONALLY CAUSE RECIPIENTS AND EX RECIPIENTS to remain stagnant and unemployed, so they can continue to excessively milk the SSA and contracts by trying to turn them into “forever recovery contract” which they make certain the targeted individual never earns income to keep the “forever recovery contract”. People remain quiet because they are threatened and also brainwashed by hating the recipient/ex-recipient by thinking the false allegations are true, as the recipient is dehumanized in a smear campaign where many things are fabricated. That’s why most recipients can’t seem to be able to climb out of the Social Security Administration’s Poverty Programs. Look who’s to benefit from this and you’ll find the real culprits, and it’s not the people that have to wait 30 days to receive a check once a month.
    OVERPAYMENTS
    Some OVERPAYMENTS were FALSELY given to non recipients who shouldn’t even be in the SSA’s system any more as they NEED TO BE REMOVED AND CLEARED FROM THE SSA’S “PAYMENT CENTER” where the “checks-direct deposits” payment information is held. It’s impossible for the overpayment to happen due to many individuals on any SSA programs or benefits list are MONITORED AND UNDER SURVEILLANCE EVERY SECOND OF THEIR LIFE BY The National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Social Security Administration’s CDI PROGRAM UNIT and it’s contractors and affiliates, who monitor every aspect of their life especially their bank accounts and any miscellaneous income in order to REPORT BACK TO THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION AND IRS. The reason why they want the SSA’s recipients which they monitor to remain stagnant and unemployed is to make their job easier by not having to report so many things, they less they have to report the easier their job is as in babysitting. But they intentionally cause the recipients to remain stagnant in secretive oppressive behaviors. It’s not ONLY the SSA, but other Federal, government and state agencies that offer some sort of social services or benefits, as the SSA’s CDI PROGRAM UNIT covers other agencies also.
    Please REMOVE AND CLEAR THE 2020 OVERPAYMENTS FROM THE “PAYMENT CENTER” OF NON RECIPIENTS. IT’S AFFECTING THE NON RECIPIENTS DUE TO TECHNICALLY STILL BEING ENLISTED AND ENROLLED AND IT DOES AFFECT EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY AS THE SSA OVERSEERS AND AFFILIATES BLOCK EMPLOYMENT SINCE THEY ASSUME YOU’RE ALREADY RECEIVING INCOME TO LIVE ON and continue their nefarious malicious activities.
    It’s been agreed by the social security administration, congress and courts to remove and eliminate these alleged erroneous 2020 Overpayment Payment Center Cases. Please remove them. Remember that the SSA is a POVERTY PROGRAM and recipients and enlisted Individuals are exactly that.. POOR. No way does it sound reasonable for anyone to pay back any sum of money if they’re not allowed to have a total of 2,000 USD in assets and that includes the amount of food in their possession.

    Reply
    • Jean H.

      There are so many errors in this comment! You are confusing the Social Security payments to retirees, survivors, and disabled individuals with SSI (Supplemental Security Income). SSI is a program that SSA administers that pays benefits to people who are over 65 or disabled who have limited income and resources. The money for SSI benefits comes from general U.S. revenue, not from the social security trust funds.

      Reply
  4. Chris W.

    They are saying my comment “Looks like I already commented”For the record, I did not.More SSA gaslighting.Will they never stop? It’s a disgrace.

    Reply
  5. Chris W.

    I am quietly confident now that director O’Mally’s actions will save my fiance and I from possibly facing homelessness and/or default on bills which would result in extreme hardship and possibly homelessness.The amount demanded in repayment seemed arbitrary and unfair, and I pray my case will now be dealt with in a more equitable and fair fashion.We live in hope.

    Reply
  6. Brian K.

    This sounds like some massive failure to communicate!. I’m retired and had no idea this was happening. I do not work. People normally try to obey the system but that actually requires the system to be open about their activities. Sounds like that is missing too often!
    This level of secrecy could in and of itself be illegal. How to steal from both sides.

    Reply
  7. Terry S.

    About the overpayment,I would like to know about a possible payment plan. Because what i’m receiving from a part-time training job and S.S.I. is not enough. I can barley pay rent and other bills. I need help.

    Reply
    • Paul

      Subject: Overpayment Repayment Options and Request for Assistance

      Here are two steps you can take to explore possible solutions:

      Call SSA at 800-772-1213. Discuss your situation and inquire about potential repayment plans. Explain that your current income barely covers rent and bills, making the current recovery rate challenging.

      Complete form SSA-634 if the initial options aren’t suitable. This form allows you to formally request a modification to the overpayment recovery rate. You can find the form here: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-634.pdf

      How the SSA-634 Form Helps:

      Request a Reduced Monthly Payment: By filling out the SSA-634, you’re asking SSA to consider a lower monthly repayment amount. SSA will review your income, expenses, and resources to determine if this is possible.
      What to Include with the SSA-634:

      Proof of Income: Paystubs
      Proof of Expenses: Rent receipts, utility bills
      Financial Statements: Bank statements
      Important Note: Submitting the SSA-634 form does not automatically suspend overpayment collection. Here are some tips to potentially expedite a decision:

      Act Quickly: Submit the form and supporting documents as soon as possible after receiving the overpayment notification.
      Request Suspension: Include a signed statement requesting that overpayment collection be suspended while SSA processes your request.
      Contact Local Office: Consider scheduling an appointment with your local SSA office to explain your financial hardship and request a suspension while the SSA-634 is reviewed.
      Communication is Key: Be clear and concise in your communication with SSA. Explain your situation accurately and honestly.

      By following these steps, you can work with SSA to find a solution that allows you to manage your overpayment while meeting your essential needs.

      Reply
      • sbd

        This is fine, but unless there are actually people to take care of all of this paperwork, it is rather pointless dont you agree?

        Reply
    • Sue

      Hi, Terry. Thanks for reading our blog and for your question. You can ask your local Social Security office to approve an overpayment repayment plan. For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. To learn about the most recent updates to our overpayment recovery process, please read our blog and press releases. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  8. Lora J.

    I recvd a payment of $44, 2 days before my monthly payment. What is this payment for? I didn’t get any msg or notification from you.

    Reply
    • Sue

      Hi, Lora. Thank you for reading our blog and for your question. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. Our notices are sent through U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail. If you haven’t received a notice with an explanation of the recent payment you received, you can call us at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., or contact your local Social Security office. We hope this helps.

      Reply
  9. patti c.

    I had a rep payee that didnt do anything as a result i owe 70,000 in overpayments. there is no way i will be able to repay this

    Reply
    • Paul

      Here’s what you need to know about filing a waiver on this overpayment and some factors SSA will consider when they process the waiver. A waiver request asks SSA to forgive repayment of the overpayment.

      You’ll need to file form SSA-632, “Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery.” You can get the form by calling SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or downloading it from the SSA website https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-632-bk.pdf Mail or take the completed form along with copies of any documents that might help your case to your local Social Security office. Keep copies of everything for yourself!

      What SSA Looks For in a Waiver Request:

      Fault: Did you or your designated representative (the person who received your benefits on your behalf) cause the overpayment? Did you get use of the money or was it misused, perhaps without your knowledge? Since you mentioned the inaction of your representative, explain how their lack of attention led to the situation. However, you will also be asked why, if you knew there was a problem, you didn’t take steps to resolve the issue, such as by asking SSA for a different representative.

      Knowledge of Overpayment: Did you or your representative know you were receiving benefits you weren’t entitled to? Be honest, but explain if there were any confusing communications from SSA or if your representative misled you.

      Reporting of Earnings: Most large overpayments such as the one you describe are caused by you having “excess” work activity while receiving disability benefits, so I’m going to assume that is the case here. Did you or your representative report your work activity and earnings to SSA as required? If so, and the overpayment continued regardless, it strengthens your argument that you were not at fault.

      Amount of Earnings: If the earnings that caused the overpayment were significant and should have obviously triggered a benefit reduction, a waiver might be less likely. However, even small amounts of income, if not properly reported or processed by SSA timely, can lead to large overpayments over time. If your work was reported, it might have been difficult for you or your RP to know if you were being overpaid and SSA might be able to find you not at fault.

      Appeal Rights: You have the right to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) if your waiver is denied. However, an ALJ will scrutinize your case just like any judge. Be prepared to provide clear and convincing evidence that the overpayment wasn’t your fault and that repaying it would cause you financial hardship.

      Tips:

      Gather any documentation that supports your case, such as communication with your representative or SSA, or proof that your earnings were reported.
      Consider seeking free legal aid from organizations specializing in Social Security disability issues.
      Remember, while there’s no guarantee a waiver will be approved, understanding the process and presenting a strong case can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

      Reply
  10. Mac M.

    How about a letter of notice before you start taking away my lively hood. You know when I worked 58 hours a week nobody complained. They just took advantage of the opportunity to break into my place and take what they wanted.
    Now you slap me, take my money and I don’t know why until I start checking into why I did not get a check. Thank You and I hope the people who get the money are happy. Nasty Shot !!!

    Reply
    • Patte

      Oh YES!!! I found out 1/17/24 the day I was SUPPOSED to get my deposit. No letter, No email, NOTHING!! And I wonder why this is not a National Story??? Have seen NOTHING on cable or TV? Very strange

      Reply
      • Sue

        We’re sorry to hear about your situation, Patte. For your security, we do not have access to private information in this venue. If you haven’t received an explanation of your overpayment, you can contact your local Social Security office. Your appeal and waiver options are explained in our Overpayments fact sheet. To learn about recent updates in the overpayment recovery process, please read our blog and press releases. We hope this is resolved soon.”

        Reply

Leave a Comment

Please review our Comment Policy before leaving a comment. For your safety, please do not post Personally Identifiable Information (such as your Social Security Number, address, phone number, email address, bank account number, or birthdate) on our blog.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *