A bevy of recent reports has indicated that some Americans are receiving demands from the Social Security Administration to repay the agency after they were overpaid on their benefits.
A Texas woman who spoke to Fox4 TV on Thursday said she received a similar demand from the SSA, saying she was overpaid and wanted the money back. The letter, according to the woman, wanted her to pay about $41,000, although she said an employee admitted to her that a mistake was made.
Agency RespondsThe Epoch Times has not received an SSA comment yet on these reports, but a spokesperson for the agency told multiple local news outlets that it handles overpayments on a case-by-case basis.
"Social Security is required by law to adjust benefits or recover debts when we establish that someone received payments to which they are not entitled and an overpayment occurs. We must maintain our responsibilities to taxpayers to be good stewards of the trust funds," the agency spokesperson told the outlet.
Adding that fewer than 0.5 percent of Social Security payments are overpayments, the spokesperson said that "each person's situation is unique, and we handle overpayments on a case-by-case basis."
What the IG Report FoundIn late 2022, the SSA's inspector general report said that overpayments or underpayments can occur when the SSA makes "mistakes in computing" or "fails to obtain or act on available information" about the recipient.
It found that a number of SSA workers "incorrectly input student information on beneficiaries’ records, which resulted in SSA underpaying an estimated 14,470 beneficiaries approximately $59.5 million" in 2022.
And, according to the IG report, it estimated the SSA "could have avoided approximately 73,000 overpayments totaling more than $368 million if it had effective controls over benefit-computation accuracy."
But Rebecca Vallas, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation think tank, suggested that the problem is worse than being reported.
Payment Increases Soon?As for general Social Security payments, one seniors group estimated that the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will go into effect in January 2024.
The Social Security Administration is expected to announce the COLA for 2024’s benefits sometime in October, with the increased payments coming next January. The agency uses the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that measures inflation during the months of July, August, and September before making its decision.
The Senior Citizens League said last week that the likely Social Security COLA will be 3.2 percent for benefit payments in 2024. That would average out to about a $57 increase in extra benefits, raising them to about $1,790 for the average recipient, it estimated in a press release.
The 3.2 percent COLA is far lower than the 8.7 percent that was received for 2023’s payments, which was the highest increase in about four decades, according to the group. However, the estimated 2024 COLA would be higher than the 2.6 percent average over the past 20 years, it said.
“Inflation was so severe in 2021 and 2022 that the average Social Security benefit fell behind by $1,054, leaving 53 percent of retirees doubting they will recover because household costs rose more than the dollar amount of their COLAs,” Mary Johnson, with the league, told media outlets last week.