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Congress Calls for Social Security Clawbacks to Be Addressed

Congress Calls for Social Security Clawbacks to Be Addressed

Congress Calls for Social Security Clawbacks to Be Addressed. Two members of a Senate panel overseeing Social Security have written to the agency’s acting commissioner, Kilolo Kijakazi, urging proactive measures to prevent overpayments and mitigate harm to vulnerable beneficiaries during the recovery process.

This comes in response to routine notices sent by the Social Security Administration, demanding repayment from beneficiaries who were mistakenly overpaid.

Concerns Raised About Financial Hardship and Agency Errors

Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) expressed deep concerns about the financial hardship imposed on beneficiaries who are required to repay significant amounts quickly. They highlighted instances where payments are halted, reduced, or reclaimed due to agency errors, leading to extreme financial difficulties for affected individuals.

Bipartisan Inquiries on Overpayments and Agency Accountability

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also voiced his concerns, labeling the agency’s actions as “unacceptable.” While acknowledging the need for accountability in cases of intentional fraud, Scott criticized the federal government for pursuing well-intentioned Americans who trusted the system.

Impact on Disabled and Low-Income Individuals

A significant portion of affected individuals includes those with disabilities and low-income, enrolled in the Social Security Administration’s Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs. In the 2022 fiscal year, the agency issued an estimated $4.6 billion in SSI overpayments, affecting 8% of payments in that program.

Agency Response and Ongoing Review

The Social Security Administration, in response to lawmakers’ letters, assured that it would directly address the concerns raised. Acting Commissioner Kijakazi previously ordered a comprehensive review of the agency’s approach to overpayments, emphasizing the importance of minimizing the burden on beneficiaries.

Legislative Calls for Improved Appeals and Waiver Processes

Senators Cassidy and Hassan questioned the agency about measures being taken to make the appeal or waiver process less burdensome for beneficiaries when overpayments result from government errors. The agency’s response indicated a commitment to examining policies and procedures to simplify the recovery and waiver process.

Review Transparency and Ongoing Challenges

Senator Scott sought clarification on whether the review announced by Kijakazi in October would be made public. The agency did not provide a clear response to this query. As of the end of the 2023 fiscal year, the agency had recovered $4.9 billion in overpayments, with an additional $23 billion remaining uncollected, posing ongoing challenges.

Conclusion

Mounting congressional calls for Social Security reform highlight the urgency to address overpayment issues affecting vulnerable beneficiaries. Lawmakers seek transparency, improved processes, and relief for those facing financial hardships. Ongoing challenges underscore the need for timely and effective solutions.

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