The Social Security Administration’s Use of the Treasury Offset Program
SSA administers several benefit programs, including the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. The benefit amount payable to an individual under these programs depends on various factors. A change in one or more of these factors may result in a lower or no benefit payable to the individual. In these situations, until SSA learns of the change and adjusts the benefit, the individual is paid more than he/she is entitled to receive—an overpayment.
In October 2011, in response to a change in Federal law, SSA published regulatory changes that authorized referrals of delinquent debts 10 years and older to the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) for recovery through the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). In June 2012, SSA began mailing notices to affected debtors informing them of the planned TOP action to collect their SSA debt. In April 2014, newspaper articles reported that individuals’ Federal or State tax returns had been offset without any notice from SSA. SSA immediately halted its referrals pending a review of its process.
The objective of this report is to determine whether SSA complied with laws and policies when it used the TOP to collect Federal debts that were delinquent 10 years and longer.