Social Security Administration struggling with disability insurance overpayments

Disability insurance Form

The SSA hasn’t been adjusting the benefits of people going back to work after having been unable to.

The Social Security Administration is facing struggles with overpaying benefits to disability insurance beneficiaries.

The coverage is meant to provide benefits when an individual’s disabilities stop them from working.

However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has not been adjusting disability insurance benefits for some people when they return the work. The result is that they risk being overpaid. As nice as that might sound, beneficiaries who are overpaid may have to repay those excess benefits. Moreover, this is also unfortunate for the SSA, as some of the overpayments are not repaid.

Disability insurance - Person trying to calculate data

The SSA has been working on implementing recommendations made by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). These included measuring the effectiveness of its corrective actions for overpaid benefits. That said, according to a statement from the GAO, the SSA has yet to address five other recommendations, including two that have been marked as a priority.

The GAO found that the SSA’s Disability Insurance program can burden beneficiaries and taxpayers.

The GAO and research already conducted have regularly determined that most beneficiaries whose earnings are adequate to impact their benefits will receive an overpayment. The overpayments lead to a substantial financial burden for those individuals.

The GAO reported in 2015 that over half of all beneficiaries who receive overpayments were earning more than the limits of the program. Another study Mathematica and the SSA conducted in 2019 showed that 71 percent of disability insurance beneficiaries whose earnings are adequate to impact their benefits received overpayments. This can grow to the point that it reaches thousands of dollars. That research determined that overpayments lasted for an average of 9 months and accumulated an average of $9,282.

According to the Office of the Inspector General at the SSA, overpayments linked with disability insurance beneficiaries working above the limits of the program are among the most common causes of improper payments. In 2021, that led to $755 million in taxpayer funds at risk. Clearly, this is no small issue and is one worthy of a priority to correct it.

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