Disability, General, SSI

Social Security Publishes Proposed Rule for Payroll Information Exchange to Reduce Improper Payments

February 15, 2024 • By

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Last Updated: February 15, 2024

Social Security Administration SealToday, the Social Security Administration published a proposed rule, “Use of Electronic Payroll Data to Improve Program Administration,” describing the agency’s plans for accessing and using information from payroll data providers to reduce improper payments, including overpayments, which improves service to customers.

Unreported, late reported, and incorrectly reported earnings are often a cause of overpayments for people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. When a person has been overpaid, the law requires the agency to ask for repayment, which can create financial difficulties for beneficiaries.

“Social Security is taking a critically important step to reduce improper payments, including overpayments, by ensuring we receive timely and accurate wage data. These automated payroll information exchanges will address the inefficiencies associated with self-reporting and manual verification by introducing a more streamlined approach,” said Martin O’Malley, Commissioner of Social Security. “These exchanges will prevent inequities caused by improper payments by enabling Social Security employees to adjust SSI payments before they are issued and help us more efficiently administer SSDI.”

Social Security is working to reduce wage-related improper payments by using its legal authority to establish information exchanges with payroll data providers. These exchanges will help ensure the agency receives timely and accurate wage data. These exchanges and the agency’s planned business process is called the Payroll Information Exchange (PIE).

PIE will help reduce manual reporting errors as well as the reporting burden for individuals who authorize Social Security to obtain their wage and employment information through these information exchanges and work for employers whose payroll data is available through the exchange. PIE will also help to more quickly identify wages that often go unreported or undetected and which can lead to improper payments.

People may read the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) here. Public comment is an important part of this process and people may provide comments on the NPRM by April 15, 2024.

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  1. Amanda C.

    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. And many didn’t really in reality receive any alleged payment since the funds were never deposited into their accounts and still received a notice and were unjustly “thrown into the mix” just for having their identity in the SSA’s system.

    • Samantha P.

      Good evening,

      I don’t know where to start. We received a letter that my husband went over by $23,000. We have had no help in finding out where this happened. They his SSI and his medical. For a year he had no insurance. Our hospital knew about this, and helped him to still receive docters care. They had found a brain tumor, and it was removed. But he still had to have a MRI every quarter to make sure what was left there was not growing back at a fast rate. When they finally gave him back his checks they told us we would receive an amount in our check to cover the loss of insurance. We told our hospital as soon as we received our check, we would bring them money. Then two days before our check was to come into our bank, we received a letter telling us they would be keeping the money to go towards the over amount. I could go on, and still 400.00 were coming out of his check. And just lately, we received a letter that they had made a mistake, and that it was not $23,000 but $31,000. Our local office has not helped us. Please, please can someone call us, and help us. We returned one vehicle because we could no longer pay the paymts. Our home was going into foreclosure. I don’t know how much more we can take. my email is..samanthapayne5@yahoo.com and mt home is 302-945-1755. If I am out, we do keep a machine on 24/7. Before all this started, we lost our oldest son Christopher to a horrific murder in Maryland (you can google Chris Mader murder) I am his Mother, and we are dealing with more, then anyone could take. Thank you, Samantha Payne.

  2. Nicole R.

    Emergency Message
    Identification Number:
    Intended Audience: All RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs/TSCs/WSUs/
    Originating Office: DCO OPSOS
    Title: COVID-19 Circumstances in Overpayment Waiver Determinations
    Type: EM – Emergency Messages
    Program: All Programs
    Link To Reference: See References at the end of this EM

    Retention Date: February 26, 2026
    A. Purpose

    The purpose of this emergency message (EM) is to provide:

    1. Instructions requiring field office (FO) technicians and Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) personnel to consider and document an individual’s alleged circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that may have prevented the individual from reporting changes. FO technicians and OHO personnel must follow these instructions when making a fault determination on a waiver request for a Title II or Title XVI overpayment incurred in any month since March 2020. These instructions apply to all levels of review, including the initial waiver determination, upon reconsideration, at the hearing level, and on Appeals Council review.

    2. A reminder for FO technicians to follow established policy and procedures when adjudicating waiver requests, including GN 02250.000, GN 02270.000, SI 02260.000, and EM-20037 SEN REV 5 (redacted)

    B. Background

    On January 20, 2024, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York approved a settlement agreement in Campos v. Kijakazi, No. 21-cv-05143. The case involved Title XVI overpayments incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 through April 2023.

    C. FO instructions

    Effective immediately, when making a fault determination on a waiver request for an overpayment incurred in any month since March 2020, technicians must consider any circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that an overpaid individual alleges prevented the individual from reporting changes. When COVID-19 circumstances are alleged, technicians must also document the individual’s allegations of COVID-19 circumstances that prevented the individual from reporting changes in the file.

    REMINDER: For overpayments incurred between March 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020, technicians should continue to apply the streamlined waiver process for qualifying overpayments, per EM-20037 SEN REV 5. (redacted)

    COVID-19 Circumstances – Fault Determination

    Technicians should continue to follow established procedures for determining whether an individual was at fault in causing the overpayment (see GN 02250.005 through GN 02250.072; SI 02260.010 and SI 02260.015).
    As part of their determination, technicians must consider all the circumstances surrounding the overpayment in each individual case, including but not limited to an individual’s ability and efforts to comply with reporting requirements.

    For waiver requests involving overpayments incurred in any month since March 2020, when considering all circumstances that may be relevant to a fault determination, technicians should consider any circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that an overpaid individual alleges prevented the individual from complying with reporting responsibilities.

    Examples of circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that may have prevented an individual from complying with Title II or Title XVI reporting requirements include, but are not limited to, the following scenarios:

    The overpaid individual:

    · attempted to contact us but was unable to visit a FO, mail us information, reach us by phone, or get transportation because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

    · was unable to contact us because of government-imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions;

    · was unable to contact us because of child-care or family-care changes due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders or school-at-home requirements;

    · was unable to contact us because of the overpaid individual’s COVID-19 illness or related serious illness;

    · was unable to contact us because the overpaid individual’s representative payee died or became seriously ill due to COVID-19 or serious illness related to COVID-19; or

    · was unable to contact us because the overpaid individual’s immediate family member died or became seriously ill due to COVID-19 or related serious illness.
    NOTE: This list is not exhaustive. An individual may allege other COVID-19 related circumstances that prevented the individual from complying with reporting requirements.

    Barbara received an overpayment notice for $2,100 for the months of February 2021 to May 2021. Barbara requested a waiver by completing the SSA-632-BK, Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery, and provided it to the local FO. A technician determines that the overpayment does not meet the criteria for administrative tolerance or the streamlined waiver process.
    The technician contacts Barbara, who alleges trying to call the 800 number but never getting through to a live representative and not being able to visit an FO due to COVID-19 office closures.

    The technician determines Barbara is without fault in causing the overpayment because of COVID-19 related circumstances that prevented Barbara from complying with the reporting responsibilities and documents the allegations in the file.

    Next, the technician determines if overpayment recovery from Barbara meets the criteria for against equity and good conscience (GN 02250.150 and SI 02260.025) or the defeats the purpose provision (GN 02250.100 and SI 02260.020) and documents the final waiver determination.

    REMINDER: Technicians must continue to follow all applicable Title II and Title XVI overpayment waiver instructions to adjudicate the waiver determination including:

    · Determining and documenting the fault determination (see GN 02250.005, SI 02260.010, and SI 02260.015); applying the streamlined waiver process in EM-20037 SEN REV 5 (redacted); and considering and documenting COVID-19 related circumstances per Section C above;
    · Developing and documenting the waiver determination (see GN 02250.315 and SI 02260.001B);

    · Conducting a personal conference (see GN 02270.000 and SI 02260.006), when applicable;

    · Issuing the waiver determination notice (see GN 02250.370, SI 02260.001B.4, and SI 02260.006C.5); and

    · Returning recovered funds, if appropriate (see GN 02201.017A.2, GN 02403.001, and SI 02260.001B.4.c).

    D. OHO Instructions
    If a waiver appeal is pending at the hearing level, OHO personnel will follow the instructions in Section C along with the normal waiver determination procedures in 20 CFR 404.506 and 416.550. When making a fault determination on a waiver request for an overpayment incurred in any month since March 2020, OHO personnel must consider any circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that an overpaid individual alleges prevented the individual from reporting changes. See Section C for more information on considering COVID-19 related circumstances. OHO personnel must also document the individual’s allegations of COVID-19 circumstances that prevented the individual from reporting changes in the written decision.

    OHO staff should direct questions through the office’s management chain. Regional office staff may direct questions about this matter to the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge’s Division of Field Procedures.

    Direct all program-related and technical questions to your Regional Office (RO) support staff using vHelp or Program Service Center (PSC) Operations Analysis (OA) staff. RO support staff or PSC OA staff may refer questions, concerns or problems to their Central Office contacts.

  3. Valerie C.

    Settlement Will Send Millions To SSI Beneficiaries

    More than 2 million Supplemental Security Income recipients, including many with disabilities, who had their benefits reduced or discontinued during the pandemic will see relief under a new settlement.

    The Social Security Administration has agreed to automatically waive many overpayments that occurred between March and September 2020 and the agency will refund individuals, as appropriate, if they have already repaid the funds. Remedies are also available for those who had benefit overpayments as recently as April 2023.

    The steps are part of a nationwide settlement reached late last year to resolve a 2021 federal lawsuit that accused the Social Security Administration of wrongly slashing or cutting off SSI benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The class-action suit known as Campos v. Kijakazi alleged that beneficiaries were penalized after they were unable to provide information to Social Security or challenge the agency’s decisions because the agency stopped processing certain paperwork and closed its field offices for more than two years during the pandemic.

    The suit included a woman who was found ineligible for SSI because the agency incorrectly counted money she received for an adopted child with disabilities. Another plaintiff saw her eligibility impacted after health concerns and stay-at-home orders left her unable to withdraw funds from her bank accounts. They are among millions of SSI recipients who had their benefits reduced or discontinued, according to the New York Legal Assistance Group, Justice in Aging and the law firm Arnold & Porter, which brought the suit on behalf of five SSI beneficiaries.

    “This settlement does what SSA should have done in the first place: make sure that SSI recipients are not penalized or denied benefits essential for their survival, as the result of circumstances that were outside of their control,” said Michelle Spadafore, director of the Disability Advocacy Project at the New York Legal Assistance Group. “This settlement provides crucial relief by putting money back into the pockets of SSI recipients who are still recovering from the tremendous challenges they faced during a global pandemic.”

    Nearly a quarter million SSI recipients are expected to have benefits credited back to their accounts automatically under the agreement.

    In addition, the Social Security Administration will issue internal guidance by late February clarifying that COVID-19-related circumstances should be considered when faulting beneficiaries for overpayments that occurred between March 2020 and April 2023.

    The agency will mail a notice by the spring of 2025 to SSI recipients assessed an overpayment between March 2020 and April 2023 with information about how to request a waiver and what COVID-19 related factors may be relevant. This is expected to benefit another 2 million SSI recipients.

    The Social Security Administration declined to comment on the settlement.

  4. Molly J.

    would require SSA to automatically waive all overpayments that occurred between March 1 and December 31, 2020, without requiring the overpaid individual to request a waiver, unless there was determination of fraud, similar fault, or misuse by a representative payee in causing the overpayment.

    However, SSA has already published an interim final rule that sets up a “streamlined” waiver process for individuals who were overpaid between March 1 and September 30, 2020. This process requires the individual to contact SSA to request a waiver, even though SSA has already determined that the agency was at fault in causing the overpayment, and it would be “against equity and good conscience” to require the individual to repay the benefits.

    Justice in Aging submitted comments in response to this rule, urging SSA to waive all COVID-related overpayments automatically, without requiring individuals to request waivers. We believe this is the most equitable and efficient method for handling overpayments during this pandemic period, and is the approach taken in the Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act.


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