More than a million individuals have been affected by Social Security clawbacks, which is higher than what the agency's leader reported to Congress.

More than a million individuals have been affected by Social Security clawbacks, which is higher than what the agency’s leader reported to Congress.

2019 hearing -> The Social Security Administration has requested repayment from over 2 million individuals annually, which is over twice the number that the agency’s leader disclosed during a hearing in October 2019.congressional hearing.

According to a document acquired through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by KFF Health News and Cox Media Group.

During the hearing, Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi failed to mention a complete group of beneficiaries listed on the document despite reading from it multiple times.

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The validity of the decreased figures has been brought into doubt.

Representative Greg Steube, a Republican from Florida and a member of the subcommittee, expressed his suspicion in an interview that the agency may have purposely lowered the numbers to downplay the severity of the situation.

“Perhaps we should schedule another hearing for her to return, and have her testify under oath,” suggested Steube. He also proposed questioning her about the reason for not disclosing the accurate numbers.

Steube stated that upon hearing Kijakazi’s testimony, he believed she was providing the subcommittee with accurate figures.

18-B program

The main point of discussion is the extent of an 18-B program.

issue that has caused fear

Numerous individuals who rely on Social Security have been pushed into financial hardship.

providing $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits, but those payments were set to expire at the end of December.

According to a joint report by KFF Health News and Cox Media Group television stations in September, the government had been giving an additional $300 per week for unemployment benefits, but these payments were scheduled to end in December.

Attempting to retrieve an immense amount of money.

The agency reports that it has received a large sum of money from recipients that it had previously overpaid. In numerous instances, the overpayments were due to errors on the government’s part.

However, in situations where the recipient did not fulfill the necessary obligations, it may take several years for the government to discover the error and issue a request for reimbursement, typically with a deadline of 30 days. During this time, the debt owed to the government can accumulate to a significant amount, potentially tens of thousands of dollars or more, which may be difficult for individuals living paycheck to paycheck to repay.

The individuals impacted could include those who are retired, disabled, or facing financial difficulties with limited income.

Knowing the amount of individuals who have encountered overpayments is crucial as it can result in significant negative impacts. Kathleen Romig, who has worked in research for the Social Security Administration and has over two decades of experience in Social Security policy, emphasized the importance of this information.

Romig stated that it is crucial for the agency to prioritize the production of accurate statistics.

The Social Security Administration has historically measured overpayments in monetary amounts rather than the number of individuals impacted. For instance, the most recent financial statement from the agency reports a recovery of over $4.9 billion in overpayments for the 2020 fiscal year, and a remaining outstanding balance of $23 billion in uncollected overpayments.

In September, Tiggemann from SSA stated, “We do not disclose the amount of individuals in debt.”

During later discussions with media outlets, certain legislators stated that the agency had a responsibility to disclose this information to the public. Representative Mike Carey from Ohio, who is the second-ranking Republican on the subcommittee, stated, “If they are not providing this information, I can guarantee that I will bring it up during a hearing.”

Preventing Social Security Overpayments: Helpful Hints to Avoid Them.

Find trustworthy figures.

During a hearing on October 18th, Carey mentioned the quantity of individuals in debt and advised Kijakazi that it is a matter that requires further investigation.

He inquired, “Is there a figure for the number of individuals affected by these excessive payments?”

“I am aware,” Kijakazi responded. “I had already reviewed it prior to arriving. My apologies, the exact number is not at the forefront of my mind at the moment. However, I can provide it.”

Carey pressed further.

He inquired about the number of individuals who receive notices of overpayment within a year.

At that moment, Tom Klouda, a deputy commissioner of the SSA, stood up from his position behind Kijakazi and passed her a sheet of paper.

She provided two specific figures while reading from the page: 1,028,389 for the 2022 fiscal year and 986,912 for the 2023 fiscal year.

Carey inquired about 986,912 people receiving letters in the mail about an overpayment and being instructed to contact the organization to arrange a payment plan. Kijakazi confirmed this to be true.

Carey commented, “That seems like a large amount.”

During further questioning by Carey, Kijakazi reiterated the figures, stating that they pertained to Social Security and were intended for Social Security purposes.

Afterwards, the organization refused to specify the meaning of Kijakazi’s statement. In response to a chain of emails, Tiggemann did not disclose whether the figures encompassed all Social Security programs.

Instead, she insinuated that the agency was unaware.

On November 29, she stated that our overpayment systems were not originally created to efficiently provide the information you are asking for.

The SSI overpayment figures were not included in Kijakazi’s testimony.

The information acquired through the Freedom of Information Act reveals that Kijakazi’s figures presented during the hearing only included two out of the three Social Security benefit programs. SSI, which offers monetary assistance to individuals with limited income or assets who are blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old, was not included.

The deputy commissioner gave Kijakazi a document with information about SSI overpayment. The numbers she read aloud were listed directly below on the paper and they showed that 1,118,648 people were overpaid in fiscal year 2022 and 1,189,642 in fiscal year 2023.

The title of the document is “Basic Facts on Overpayment.”

The figures Kijakazi observed during the hearing, estimated to be around 1 million individuals annually, are denoted as “T2” in the document. Title II of the Social Security Act pertains to two programs: Disability Insurance (DI) and Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI).

The numbers excluded by Kijakazi are marked as “T16.” Title XVI of the Social Security Act pertains to SSI.

According to Romig, a former researcher at the Social Security Administration, staff members use the designation T16 for SSI and T2 for OASI and DI combined.

According to Romig, there may be individuals who received both overpayment notifications from SSI and other programs, causing a duplication of numbers presented by Kijakazi during the hearing that were not disclosed by her.

Kilolo Kijakazi, the Social Security Administration’s acting commissioner, testified at a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on October 18 about the administration’s payment clawbacks. 

The United States House Committee on Ways and Means

During the 2023 financial year, the organization provided monthly SSI benefits to an average of 7.5 million individuals. Based on monetary value, the overpayment rate for SSI has been approximately 8%, according to the most recent annual financial report from the agency. This is significantly higher than the combined overpayment rate of half a percent for OASI and DI.

In her written statement to the House subcommittee, Kijakazi mentioned that the numbers she provided did not paint a full picture. Dated October 18, the statement referred to Disability Insurance and Old-Age and Survivors Insurance as “the Social Security program itself,” but did not include SSI.

The Ways and Means Committee released a statement following the hearing that did not differentiate between cases. It stated, “Reform is necessary as one million Americans are impacted by Social Security’s incorrect payments per year.”

The information revealed through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) also contained fresh details. It indicated that only a small number of recipients dispute overpayment notices and that a significant number of appeals or petitions for exemptions are unsuccessful.

Several weeks following the publication and broadcast of the initial stories in their series by KFF Health News and CMG television stations, the Social Security administrator directed a review of overpayments.

On December 5, the spokesperson for the agency stated that, as a part of their assessment, the Social Security Administration is examining the most effective ways to communicate with the Agency, the general public, and Congress regarding this workload.

KFF Health News, previously called Kaiser Health News or KHN, is a national news organization that creates comprehensive reports on health-related topics. Along with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three primary programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information on health issues to the public.