Exclusive: Senators send letter questioning SSA about Social Security overpayments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is a new push for answers from the Social Security Administration (SSA) about what is being done to fix the problem of overpayments made to beneficiaries, and efforts by the government to claw the money back.


Our Washington News Bureau exclusively obtained a letter sent by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to the SSA on Tuesday, which directly links to our reporting on the problem.

Our Cox Media Group investigative reporters across eight cities in seven states worked together and partnered with KFF Health News to expose billions of dollars in overpayments.

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“As you know, Social Security benefits are a lifeline for millions of Americans, from retirees and older adults to individuals experiencing disabilities, delivering $1.4 trillion in essential benefits to more than 71 million people each year,” the Senators wrote. “That is why we have been deeply concerned by stories from our constituents and recent reports of the extreme financial hardship placed upon beneficiaries who are asked to quickly repay in full or whose payments are halted, reduced, or reclaimed as the agency attempts to correct improper payments, many of which occurred due to agency error.”

Hassan and Cassidy ask questions about efforts SSA is taking to reduce the occurrence of overpayments and about how the agency is working to prevent harm for the beneficiaries affected.

Fixing overpayments has been a major focus during the nomination process for the person to lead the agency.

Earlier this month, we were there as Hassan questioned the nominee for SSA Commissioner Martin O’Malley about overpayments.

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“If confirmed, will you commit Governor to continuing efforts to minimize the agency errors that lead to the problems for beneficiaries, including my constituents in the Granite State?” Hassan asked during the Nov. 2 hearing.

“I will certainly commit to that, Senator,” O’Malley replied.

SSA confirmed it has received the Hassan/Cassidy letter and said the agency will respond directly to the Senators.

The joint letter from Hassan and Cassidy comes after another U.S. Senator wrote to the SSA earlier this month.

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Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) sent a letter to SSA on Nov. 17 and wrote: “I have heard from numerous Floridians about the Social Security Administration (SSA) demanding shockingly large sums of money for repayment as a result of past overpayments and errors made by the SSA. These notices have come as a complete surprise to many seniors in my state and, if immediately recouped, would bankrupt an untold number of elderly Floridians.”

Scott asked the agency to explain who is being held accountable for the mistakes and about what it’s doing to make it easier for beneficiaries to report and fix overpayment issues.

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