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Annual Earnings Test Underpayments Payable to Beneficiaries

April 09, 2012

Beneficiaries who are younger than full-retirement age and earn an amount in wages, self-employment income, or both over the annual exempt amount, receive reduced benefits. In Calendar Year 2008, the annual exempt amount was $13,560. To ensure compliance, SSA compares annual report data recorded on the Master Beneficiary Record with earnings data recorded on the Master Earnings File. This process, called the Earnings Enforcement Operation, detects improper payments that may have occurred during the year. After completing this review, we estimated that SSA improperly paid 10,644 beneficiaries about $15 million during Calendar Years 2005 through 2008.

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