Many residents of Philadelphia may have heard of the troubles plaguing our nation’s Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) program. In fact, the program is facing a shortfall of almost 20 percent before the end of the next year. Adding to the programs woes is a new report issued by the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Office of the Inspector General that states that many recipients of disability benefits may have been overpaid.
According to the report, 44.5 percent of Social Security Disability benefit recipients were paid more than they should have been at some time beginning in 2004 and ending 10 years later in 2014. The report claims that this amounts to a yearly overpayment rate of 3.1 percent, compared to that in October 2013. When added up over the decade the report focused on, it seems that $38 billion may have been erroneously paid out.
The report identifies a number of reasons why this may be so. Predominantly, these extra payments may have been going to individuals who were able to work or who had some other source of income. Moreover, in some cases, benefits continued to be paid even after the recipient passed away.
The report also found that it would take the SSA approximately eight months to determine whether a person was being overpaid. Even so, over $2 billion in overpayments were never rectified, due to the fact that the costs to the agency to recover the funds would outstrip the amount of money that was paid out.
Some feel that as congress works out a solution to fix the nation’s Social Security Disability program, they should also make a point to hold the SSA accountable for the amounts they have overpaid recipients. According to some, these types of errors could be prevented if the SSA utilized technology to identify overpayments, rather than relying, as they currently do, on self-reporting by recipients.
While this report may not be received as good news, it is still important to remember that many qualified individuals are rightly and properly being paid the SSDI benefits they need. Those who have questions about self-reporting or about the amount of benefits they are receiving may want to seek the help of a professional.
Source: The Daily Signal, “Report: Nearly Half of Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Were Overpaid By Government,” Romina Boccia, June 22, 2015