From the Office of Inspector General (OIG)…
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) OIG recently released several reports of interest, two of which we will examine here.
The first report, entitled “Overpayments in the Social Security Administration’s Disability Programs – A 10-Year Study,” followed 1,532 disability beneficiaries from 2003-2014. The study found that during that time, 44.5% of the study subjects received at least one overpayment. The study found that a change in a beneficiary’s income was the most common reason for overpayment. In total, according to the report, the SSA overpaid about $16.8 billion during the 10-year study period, of which $8.1 was recovered, $2.4 billion was waived or cancelled, and $8.7 billion was left unrecovered. Aside from a change in income, some of the other reasons for overpayment included: payments received while appeals were pending, beneficiary incarceration, payments made after a beneficiary’s death, and payments made to those who were erroneously approved for benefits in the first place.
The OIG’s recommendation to the SSA was that it reduce overpayments by making every effort to process earning reports as quickly as possible, perform timely Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs), and publicize electronic wage reporting tools.
The OIG’s second report, entitled “Accuracy of Claimant Representative Fees Paid on Title XVI Claims,” evaluated payments made by the SSA to claimant representatives in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases.
In this study, the OIG randomly chose 250 SSI cases in which the SSA paid fees (withheld from past due benefits) directly to claimant representatives. The OIG found that 4% of its sample cases contained errors in payment. These errors accounted for about $19.8 million in 2011-2012.
Most of the errors were overpayments, but the report found that overall, the SSA has improved its payment accuracy for representative fees in SSI cases.