Ensuring Accuracy and Integrity
For more than eight decades, the Social Security Administration has been the bedrock of income security for millions of Americans. With its solemn duty to ensure that eligible individuals receive their rightful benefits while safeguarding program integrity, the agency’s employees have diligently striven to uphold their mission: paying the right person the right amount at the right time. Their efforts have yielded consistently high payment accuracy rates.
A Massive Responsibility
Social Security disburses an astounding $1.4 trillion in benefits to over 71 million recipients annually. While their commitment to accuracy remains steadfast, the complexity of programs and the ever-changing circumstances of beneficiaries mean that, occasionally, overpayments do occur. In fact, about 0.5 percent of Social Security payments fall into this category, and while representing a small portion of payments (roughly 8 percent), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) overpayments are relatively higher due to the intricacies of income, resource limits, and asset evaluations within the program.
A Commitment to Continuous Improvement
Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi is unwavering in her dedication to improving the Social Security Administration’s response to overpayments. She has appointed a senior official from the Office of the Commissioner to spearhead this endeavor, reporting directly to her.
Addressing recent media misinformation regarding the agency’s pursuit of $21 billion in overpayments, it’s essential to clarify that this figure represents the cumulative total of overpayments in the programs’ history. Each overpayment case is meticulously reviewed, considering its unique circumstances. Individuals have the right to appeal if they dispute overpayments or their amounts. Furthermore, they can request that the agency waive collection of overpayments, with no time limit for filing such a request.
Enhancing Service and Efficiency
Social Security is committed to continuous enhancement, focusing on preventing overpayments and improving the recovery and waiver processes. To this end, the agency has introduced a simplified waiver request form, making it more accessible to individuals. A new electronic payroll data exchange program is also in development, which will adjust payment amounts automatically based on wage information to prevent overpayments. Additionally, the agency intends to streamline processes and reduce the burden on eligible individuals seeking debt relief through a proposed rule.
When overpayments do occur, the agency is mandated by law to either adjust benefits or recover debts. However, the law also permits Social Security to waive recovery in specific cases, striking a balance between its stewardship responsibility and safeguarding the trust funds.
A Commitment to Collaboration
Social Security remains dedicated to working closely with individuals seeking to appeal or explore repayment options and waivers within the confines of the law. Their overarching mission is to ensure that the millions who depend on their programs receive the support they rightfully deserve.