An overpayment is the total amount an individual received for any period that exceeded the total amount the individual should have been paid for that period. With a few exceptions, overpaid individuals are responsible for repaying the overpayments. SSA uses different methods to recover overpayments, such as benefit adjustment, the Treasury Offset Program, and Administrative Wage Garnishment.
Reduce Improper Payments and Increase Overpayment Recoveries
Non-Entitled Debtors (NED) is a person or entity that owes a debt to SSA but may not be entitled to Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments. Examples include deceased beneficiaries’ representative payees (individual or organizational); persons who owe a court-ordered penalty or restitution; attorneys and non-attorneys who received excess fees; or persons who fraudulently or erroneously obtained benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) may waive recovery of an overpayment if the person is without fault, and recovery would either defeat the purpose of the Social Security Act or be against equity and good conscience. A waiver is a permanent write-off of the overpayment, and SSA cannot subsequently collect the waived amount by any means. Generally, the overpaid person must request a waiver.
When SSA receives a report that a beneficiary or recipient has died, it records the date of death on the Master Beneficiary (MBR) or Supplemental Security Record (SSR) and terminates benefits. In addition, SSA’s Death Alert, Control, and Update System (DACUS) receives, processes, and records death information on SSA’s Numident. SSA uses death information from the Numident to create a record of death information called the Death Master File (DMF), which is available to Federal agencies and the public.
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.
Benefit payments greater than the amount to which individuals are entitled are considered overpayments. When the Social Security Administration determines an individual has been overpaid, it generally initiates recovery actions regardless of the dollar amount.
In this report, we analyzed the cost-benefit of processing overpayments for the Retirement and Survivors Insurance (RSI), Disability Insurance (DI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
We selected for review a sample of 1,532 beneficiaries from a file of 8.9 million beneficiaries who were receiving disability payments in October 2003.
We originally reviewed these 1,532 cases for an April 2006 audit.
The Social Security Act prohibits paying retirement and/or disability benefits to individuals who are placed under a final order of deportation or removal from the United States for participating in Nazi persecution or committing crimes of genocide.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provides payments to financially needy individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled. Individuals eligible for SSI payments may also qualify for Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) benefits (concurrent entitlement). SSA reduces SSI payments by the recipient’s countable income, which includes OASDI benefits. Concurrently entitled individuals continue receiving SSI payments as long as their countable income does not exceed the Federal Benefit Rate plus a $20 allowance.
The objective of our report is to determine whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) properly identified and controlled overpayments recorded as "special payment amounts" (SPA) on the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR).