Recipients of Social Security payments have been left shocked and worried by letters demanding they pay back vast sums with only 30 days’ notice.
Payback Demands Hurt Recipients
Payback demands, some in the tens of thousands, have been issued to beneficiaries by the Social Security Agency.
Many of these people are vulnerable or have a disability and have been asked to pay back large sums due to the service—by its own admission—accidentally paying them too much money.
Some recipients have reported that they were told to return $67,000 over the next 30 days or submit a partial refund with a letter explaining their circumstances, the beneficiaries told Newsweek.
Beneficiaries can also appeal the refund.
As to why these overpayments happen, the agency explains it can happen if you don’t share important life updates, such as:
- Your ability to work
- Your living situation
- Your marital status
- Your income
Danny Karon, the attorney behind the platform Your Lovable Lawyer, says by the time you realize there was a mistake, it is too late to correct it simply.
Only around 0.5 percent of Social Security payments are overpayments. For the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, overpayments also represent a small percentage of payments —about 8 percent — but are higher due to the complexity in administering statutory income and resource limits and asset evaluations.
“Despite our high accuracy rates, I am putting together a team to review our overpayment policies and procedures to further improve how we serve our customers,” said Kilolo Kijakazi, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “I have designated a senior official to work out of the Office of the Commissioner to lead the team and report directly to me.”
When overpayments do happen, the agency is required by law to adjust benefits or recover debts. The law allows Social Security to waive recovery in some cases, which must be balanced with the agency’s stewardship responsibility to safeguard the integrity of benefit programs and the trust funds.
Social Security is committed to working with people if they seek to appeal or to explore potential repayment options and waivers when allowed by law.
For more information about the overpayment process, please see Overpayments Fact Sheet.
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