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SSA Makes Overpayments, Demands Money Back


When a person is disabled, they can receive Social Security Disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Getting these benefits is a difficult task, often taking longer than a year. Once people are approved for these benefits, they are ecstatic. They start paying their bills and other expenses.

But last year, the SSA apparently made some mistakes with calculating benefits. The agency is  now demanding more than $26 billion back due to alleged overpayments. The SSA says these payments should not have ever gone out. They got back $4.7 billion of overpayments. The rest are outstanding.

The result? A costly collection effort and a devastating ordeal for the beneficiary. One recipient was asked to return more than $60,000. The SSA wanted the money back in 30 days, in the form of a check or money order. Clearly, there was no way that was going to happen, as the woman was living off of just $1,065 in monthly disability benefits.

It is unknown how many Social Security Disability recipients have been asked to pay back their benefits, as the SSA refuses to report on the number of debtors. The agency rejected a May 2022 Freedom of Information Act request for documentation of all overpayment notices sent over the past few years. A March 2023 appeal is pending.

It is estimated that millions of people have received overpayment notices. Sending these notices and asking for the money back will end up being a lost cause for the SSA. Those who are on disability will be unable to afford to repay the government.

But the truth is that the exact number of those affected doesn’t matter. This should not be happening at all. Asking recipients who are already struggling financially to repay benefits is counterproductive to the goals of the SSA. Beneficiaries are pushed even deeper into poverty and hardship.

How Do Overpayments Occur?

Overpayments can result from the SSA making a mistake or from beneficiaries failing to comply with requirements. However, the fault primarily lies within the system. Here are some reasons why:

  • Rules are hard to follow.
  • There are limits on what beneficiaries can save or own and they have not been adjusted for inflation in a long time.
  • The SSA has inadequate staffing.
  • The SSA has archaic systems and policies, as much of the work is done by hand.
  • The system relies heavily on data submitted by beneficiaries themselves; checking this information is time-consuming.

Learn More About Social Security Disability Benefits

When people receive benefit payments, they tend to use the money right away. Asking recipients to pay back tens of thousands of dollars is just not feasible.

A White Plains Social Security Disability lawyer from The Law Office of Michael Lawrence Varon can assist you in getting the benefits you deserve as well as handle any issues with receiving payments. Schedule a free consultation with our office by calling (914) 228-1770 or filling out the online form.



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