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Congressional subcommittee hosts hearing on Social Security overpayments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After weeks of reporting about overpayments by the Social Security Administration, the acting commissioner was in the hot seat answering questions about the issue on Wednesday.

The Social Security subcommittee members wanted to know why millions of people get demand letters, sometimes years after a mistake was made.

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Subcommittee Congressman Drew Ferguson said Washington can do better.

“We can not continue to go down the road to turning a blind eye to inefficiencies and improper payments in the administration,” Ferguson said.

Read: COVID relief payments triggered feds to demand money back from Social Security recipients

For weeks, we have been telling you that millions of people are getting letters from Social Security telling them they have to pay back the government after calculation errors caused an overpayment.

The issue has forced low-income people to sell their homes, face eviction and kept them wondering how they will now pay their bills.

Read: Social Security reviewing overpayment policies, procedures following Channel 9 News investigation

On Wednesday, the acting commissioner of SSA calmly told lawmakers hat it has the lowest staffing level in 25 years and last year had the highest number of beneficiaries without funding and that it will be tough to fix all the issues at the agency.

“This gap between staffing and beneficiaries, that is a crisis that we have been working through,” Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi said.

Read: Lawmaker calls for hearing on Social Security Administration overpayments

Kijakazi said the percentage of overpayments is small, but still, members wanted answers about the process and how many people were affected.

The agency would not answer for 9 Investigates on how many people got these letters after multiple requests, but on Wednesday we got a better idea of how many people are getting demand letters. Kijakaz couldn’t give a total number, but said last year more than 1.2 million people received overpayment letters and this year so far almost a million were asked to pay the money back.

Read: Social Security overpayments draw scrutiny and outrage from members of Congress

“That is a lot!”Congressman Mike Carey said.

The SSA has started its review of its policies and procedures hoping to make the agency more efficient.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.