Social Security Administration Grapples with $23 Billion Overpayment Crisis, Beneficiaries in Distress

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The report, released this week, reveals an uncollected balance of $23 billion in overpayments as of October 1.

Social Security Administration Grapples with $23 Billion Overpayment Crisis, Beneficiaries in Distress
Social Security Administration Grapples with $23 Billion Overpayment Crisis, Beneficiaries in Distress ( Photo: AS USA )

The latest financial report from the Social Security Administration (SSA) spotlights an escalating concern within the agency

These overpayments, erroneously distributed to beneficiaries nationwide, remain outstanding despite persistent efforts to recover them. This ongoing issue gained attention following investigative reports by Cox Media Group (CMG) television stations and KFF Health News in September. These reports highlighted numerous cases where beneficiaries demanded repayment, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. At the beginning of fiscal year 2023, the uncollected balance stood at $21.6 billion, marking a continued surge from previous years.

In the most recent fiscal year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) disbursed approximately $11.1 billion in new overpayments, signifying a staggering 65% increase compared to the prior year. These overpayments were predominantly within the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs, amounting to an estimated $6.5 billion.

The report underscores a shift in overpayment occurrences, previously centered on the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which aids financially challenged aged, blind, and disabled individuals. In 2022, SSI-related overpayments totaled $4.6 billion, consistent with past figures.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) hadn’t provided clarification for the significant rise in OASDI overpayments

The report indicates that $1.6 billion in OASDI overpayments and $287 million in SSI overpayments were not the fault of the beneficiaries, falling under the agency’s control. Beneficiaries often find themselves unaware of receiving excess funds until they receive a repayment demand, causing financial distress. These notices frequently arrive years post-overpayment, making the owed amounts insurmountable for many.

Amidst mounting concerns, Social Security Administration (SSA) Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi announced an agency-wide review of overpayment policies. Congressional hearings have also been held, pressing for answers and proposing legislative changes to prevent future occurrences and aid affected individuals.

The struggle continues for beneficiaries like Lori from Florida and Tammy from Ohio, highlighting the human toll of this bureaucratic issue. As the Social Security Administration (SSA) navigates this crisis, the focus remains on rectifying past errors and implementing measures to prevent similar occurrences, ensuring Social Security serves its intended purpose of support rather than causing hardship.


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