A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, primarily from Ohio, is investigating the Social Security Administration’s puzzling overpayment of benefits to millions of older Americans. These beneficiaries are now facing demands to repay substantial amounts, often totaling thousands of dollars.
Conservative Brief reported on Sunday, December 17, 2023, that House members sent a letter to Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi, the acting commissioner of the SSA, seeking explanations for the agency’s attempt to reclaim overpayments from individuals who have not committed any wrongdoing.
Representative Mike Carey, a lead author of the letter, emphasized that seniors and disabled Americans on fixed incomes should not be treated like criminals for mistakes made by the federal government.
Many affected individuals, who rely on Social Security as their primary income source, now risk having their benefits suspended until the alleged debt is repaid.
Carey shared a poignant example from a constituent who received a letter in December 2021 acknowledging a miscalculation of benefits.
Initially, this individual began receiving higher monthly payments, and the SSA even sent a retroactive check covering the owed amount from 2017. However, in August of the following year, the constituent received a letter demanding repayment of over $7,500 in overpaid benefits within 30 days.
Lawmakers argue that over one million Americans receive annual notifications about erroneously distributed Social Security funds.
Contrary to SSA Acting Commissioner Kijakazi’s testimony mentioning 986,912 clawback letters in fiscal year 2023, a CBS “60 Minutes” report, based on a Freedom of Information Act request, revealed a much larger issue.
The report claimed that over two million Americans annually are notified of excessive Social Security checks, more than double the number presented to Congress. Beneficiaries, including retirees and disabled individuals, are given a brief window, often just 30 days, to repay substantial amounts.
Representative Emilia Sykes, the leading Democrat supporting the investigation, emphasized that older and disabled Americans who followed correct procedures in filing for Social Security benefits should not be penalized for SSA errors.
She stressed the importance of holding the SSA accountable to ensure correct payments for seniors who depend on these funds to cover essential expenses.
In response to the growing concerns, SSA spokeswoman Nicole Tiggemann acknowledged the lack of an exact figure for the affected individuals among the 67 million Americans receiving Social Security.
She stated that their overpayment systems were not designed to easily determine this information and that the agency is conducting a review to find the best way to inform the public, Congress, and the agency itself about this significant workload.
Concerns are escalating as the Social Security Administration grapples with the fallout of overpayments, leaving millions of older and disabled Americans in financial turmoil. Lawmakers are intensifying efforts to hold the SSA accountable for what appears to be a systemic issue.
With many beneficiaries given mere weeks to repay substantial sums, the urgency to address these errors grows. The SSA’s lack of a precise figure for affected individuals among the 67 million Americans highlights the complexity of the problem, necessitating a comprehensive review to rectify the situation and safeguard the financial stability of vulnerable citizens.