According to an investigation conducted by Boston 25 News, the federal government has detected that Social Security has carried out overpayment operations totaling $21 billion dollars throughout the United States. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is making overpayments to some people, meaning that it is paying more income than it should to some elderly individuals in the United States.
The investigation detected that the federal government has detected that overpayment operations totaling $21 billion dollars have been carried out throughout the country. In response, they are requesting that the money be returned. Most of these payments have been made to individuals who are part of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and this might impact the program in the long run.
Social Security Overpayments and Recourse for Eligible Individuals
In the United States, SSI is granted to individuals with disabilities, those with partial or total blindness, and elderly individuals who do not have sufficient resources to receive retirement benefits. Overpayments occur when beneficiaries exceed asset or income limits, and it may be that Social Security made an error in overpaying. However, even if this is the case on the organization’s part, individuals will still be required to return the excess money.
According to the SSA, the profile of individuals who have received extra money primarily consists of those who receive SSI benefits, have low incomes, and are 65 years of age or older. They may also have total or partial blindness or a medical condition that prevents them from working.
Given this situation and its direct impact on their budget, the SSA is demanding the return of the money under the law that allows the agency to adjust benefits or recover overpaid funds.
How to Determine if You Have an Overpayment?
So far, the federal agency has started sending notices of overpayment to the individuals who have received them. This was the case for Lori, a Florida resident, who shared her testimony with Orlando News WFTV. She said, ‘I went to my mailbox and there was a letter from Social Security, and I opened it, and it was a demand letter for $121,000, payable within 30 days, because the explanation was for an overpayment.’
According to what has been reported by the federal agency, these notices are informing individuals who received an overpayment about the amount, their right to appeal, and the options available to them for repaying the money or, if applicable, receiving a debt waiver.
“Beneficiaries are generally some of the lowest-income people in this country,’ said Rebecca Vallas of The Century Foundation to WHIO I-Team. ‘And the agency knows very well that they don’t have a lot of cash,” she added.
What Happens is Social Security Overpaid you?
Beneficiaries may find themselves in a situation where they receive more benefits than they are entitled to. This overpayment can occur for various reasons, depending on the type of benefits a person is receiving, such as old-age benefits, disability benefits, or survivor benefits.
One common scenario leading to overpayment is failing to inform the SSA when starting a new job while still collecting benefits. If a beneficiary’s disability status changes, and they return to work but continue to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), they may also be asked to repay the excess benefits.
In most cases, overpayments result from beneficiaries not notifying the SSA of changes that could affect their benefit amounts. There are instances where beneficiaries proactively inform the SSA, but the agency fails to update its records, leading to overpayment.
Beneficiaries who have been overpaid will receive a notification from the SSA. This notice will detail when the overpayment occurred, why it happened, the excess amount received, repayment options, and information about appeal and waiver rights. It is crucial to respond promptly upon receiving such a notice, carefully reviewing the provided information.
If you acknowledge the overpayment and agree with the SSA’s claim, you have 30 days plus an additional five mailing days to respond. Failure to respond within this timeframe may result in the SSA withholding your entire benefits, with reinstatement upon request and approval for a lower withholding amount.