Molinaro to Social Security Administration: Stop Prosecuting Seniors for Your Mistakes
The Social Security Administration Has Overpaid Billions of Dollars to Seniors. Now They Are Demanding Their Money Back.
Washington, September 21, 2023
Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro (NY-19) today launched an effort to stop the Social Security Administration (SSA) from aggressively prosecuting seniors for mistakes made by the SSA.
In 2021, the SSA made over $2 billion in overpayments to Social Security recipients. When the SSA discovers an overpayment, they send notices to recipients demanding their money back. This has happened to numerous residents in New York’s 19th Congressional District, who have reached out to Rep. Molinaro’s office for assistance. In some cases, the SSA is requesting back thousands of dollars that were paid out over several years.
In a letter to Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi, the Acting Commissioner of the SSA, Rep. Molinaro called on the agency to immediately stop seeking back overpayments and take steps to update its system to prevent future failures.
Rep. Molinaro said, “The Social Security Administration screwed up, and now they’re demanding that seniors pay for the administration’s mistakes. Social Security serves as the primary source of income for thousands of recipients in Upstate New York. Most victims will have no way of ever paying Social Security back. The Social Security Administration needs to stop aggressive prosecutions of seniors and focus on fixing their systems.”
The full text of the letter can be found here:
Dear Acting Commissioner Kijakazi:
As you know, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency responsible for managing over $1 trillion in payments to roughly 70 million beneficiaries annually, making the SSA the largest expenditure of taxpayer dollars. With a program this size, overpaying or underpaying even in the smallest amount can result in billions of dollars in improper payments. Moreover, when an individual is then forced to repay an improper payment, it can be an incredibly difficult burden on beneficiaries who committed no wrongdoing. I have heard from many of my constituents of instances in which they are being told to repay tens of thousands of dollars in improper payments that were sent by the SSA. This is absolutely unfair to the Americans who unknowingly received overpayments from the SSA, and this must be addressed immediately.
The Payroll Information Exchange (PIE) authorizes the Commissioner of Social Security to enter into data exchanges with commercial payroll data providers to help administer monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) benefits accurately. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, Social Security’s combined Disability Insurance and Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASDI) programs made roughly $2.5 billion in improper payments – $2 billion of which were overpayments. In the same fiscal year, Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) made more than $4 billion in overpayments. Additionally, the SSA found beneficiaries’ failure to report cases of potential improper payments in the OASDI and SSI programs. A recent report released by the SSA Office of the Inspector General emphasized, “Obtaining data from external sources, such as other federal and state agencies and financial institutions, is critical in preventing and detecting improper payments.”
In 2021, the SSA published a notice of implementation of the PIE in the Federal Register, but no regulations have been published and the PIE has not yet been put into production, despite its authorization to do so in 2015. Congress must strengthen the use of data exchanges with payroll data providers to reduce improper payments, improve the administration of the DI and SSI programs, and alleviate monthly reporting burdens for beneficiaries. The SSA can and should do more to help reduce improper payments and support the standard administration of DI and SSI.
Like many beneficiaries in my district in Upstate New York and across the country, Social Security serves as their financial foundation. Given the importance of the program and the payment integrity issues facing the agency, your agency must make the necessary improvements to modernize its systems and prevent improper payments to beneficiaries.