Federal Politics

Published — July 28, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Social Security struggles to collect $5.4 billion it overpaid to disabled workers

Trays of printed Social Security checks waiting to be mailed from the U.S. Treasury Department. Bradly C. Bower/The Associated Press

Agency fails to track people who return to work and no longer qualify

Introduction

The Social Security Administration (SSA) overpaid disabled Americans more than $1.4 billion in disability checks during fiscal year 2010 and was able to recover only $839 million of that amount, according to a report issued Thursday by the Government Accountability Office.

The agency’s chronic problem with overpayments means that the government is now owed a total of $5.4 billion from disabled Americans, the GAO said.

Most of the overpayments occur because SSA lacks timely earnings data for people who return to work and may no longer qualify for disability payments because their income exceeds the $1,000 per month limit, the GAO said. In 49 out of 60 of those cases examined by the GAO, “there was no evidence in the file that the beneficiary reported his or her earnings, as required by program guidelines.”

The SSA relies on year-old data it obtains from the Internal Revenue Service to detect if a beneficiary’s income exceeds the limits.

The agency also lacks clear deadlines and goals for processing the reports that determine whether or not a working individual still qualifies for disability payments, the report said, adding that some cases may wait up to 15 months for review. While the SSA “targets 270 days to complete a case, actual

processing time ranged from 82 to 992 days (with a median of 396 days) in the 60 cases GAO reviewed, and overpayments which accrued as a result topped $1 million total,” the report said.

“We use many tools to assist us in collecting overpayments—benefit withholding, repayment arrangements and external collection agencies,” an SSA official wrote in response to the report. “We pursue other options to prevent overpayments from occurring. . . . We are also pursuing legislative changes.”

Among the 60 cases the GAO examined, individual overpayments ranged from $1,126 to $53,436. The agency tries to collect repayments within 36 months, but some repayment plans can take decades because of an individual’s small income.

In the case of one 60-year-old repaying $10 per month, it will take 223 years to pay off the entire $26,715 owed to SSA, the report said.

The SSA told the GAO it plans to refer debts that are delinquent for at least 10 years to the Treasury Department for collection, and agreed to follow adopt GAO recommendations to improve how the agency detects, prevents and recovers overpayments.

FAST FACT: The Social Security Administration, which paid nearly $123 billion to 10 million disabled Americans in fiscal 2010, may be owed more money than the agency realizes. The GAO found manual processing errors accidentally deleted $53,097 in overpayments from agency records, and the SSA’s computer system to track collections can’t go beyond the year 2049 even though some repayment plans take decades.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT