Your source for news affecting the U.S. Social Security Administration/© Charles T. Hall
Of course it is fair. The individual received money to which he/she was not entitled. It is only reasonable that it has to be returned/repaid.If your employer overpaid you by accident, you would not get to keep the money. If the bank made a mistake and credited your account with too much money, you would not get to keep the extra cash.
2:14 People like you always crack me up. The problem with our overpayments is that we usually can never explain how they arose. Even internally there is often no good explanation,never mind to a lay person. So yes, if the bank or my employer could explain AND prove how I was overpaid, then yes there would be some liability provided that the claim was not stale, that I was in fact the person who directly benefited and then a reasonable repayment schedule could be discussed. That is not what we do. We say, hey schmuck, you owe us money. We can't really explain why you do or even how we arose at the amount we are claiming, just trust us (we are there Gov't and we are here to help). It doesn't matter that the money was paid to your now deceased parent 30 years ago. It doesn't matter whether or not you benefited from the money. Oh, and by the way Schmuck, we would like that money tomorrow, all $30K of it. Maybe this is a bit of an exaggeration but I have seen plenty of cases with a very similar fact patter.In all seriousness, 2:14 how do you defend cases like this?
Why do people receiving any underpayment received quickly accept any explanation and do not press for details. However, for too many, no explanation concerning why an overpayment needs to be repaid is sufficient. I think it is the federal government's fault that the USA is approaching $18 trillion in debt. This is not my fault. It is the fault of administrations I never voted for and members of the house and senate I never voted for. Since this is not my fault and not fair, does this TV station believe I do not have to repay any part of that debt?
To 3:52 pm--really? you usually cannot explain how an overpayment occurred? I suggest you ask for refresher training, or start looking for another line of work, and stop feeding at the public trough.
10:51 Your kidding right? Because if I have seen one, I have seen at least 20 cases where there was not a detailed explanation for how the overpayment arose. Those cases are a joke but for the poor claimant's who get sucker punched. It is employees like you who give government workers a bad name. Don't try to change the subject, my friend. Anyone who has half a brain and who has worked on more than the occasional overpayment, knows that the Agency does not know what it is doing and has a very hard time explaining itself when called on to do so. But if you have been drinking the Koolaid and have a bad attitude to boot, well you will never get it anyway.
"Is it fair?" is the wrong question. Under the SS rubric, the right question is: "Is the individual without fault, and, if so, would recovering the overpayment either (1) defeat the purposes of the Act, or (2) be against equity and good conscience?"This is a highly subjective standard, and each case must be determined on its own unique circumstances. No generalizations can be (validly) assumed from anecdotal information. Even if it comes from TV.
Having worked SSI for decades, I can figure out how nearly any overpayment occurred, but trying to explain some of them to an untrained public who doesn't understand payment computations at all, can be next to impossible.But that ROAR system is not nearly as user friendly and I am less familiar with computations.I wonder if many of those really old overpayments are the result of a child turning 18, going to work the same year and not filing an annual report so the monthly earnings test can be applied.
ODAR can seldom figure out overpayments and judges routinely waive recovery simply because they don't understand the system and how payments are computed. This is due to poor training and an emphasis on disability, as well as difficult systems like ROAR. Even if the overpayment has been previously explained to the recipient of the overpayment they have a great chance of getting it reversed through appeal simply because no one in ODAR can figure it out and they never ask for clarification or have a representative of the agency testify. Yes it is difficult to explain some times, but a large percentage of overpayments are never paid back even when the recipient is clearly at fault.
The files do not begin to explain the alleged basis for the average o/p. Even with a do rep to try to explain, it is a mystery. I like to ask the expert witness if I had 10 CR's go over the file how many different answers would I get? It is astounding that an agency entrusted with so much money [they distribute over 40 Billion $ / month] has such a procedure in place.
1:54 - I've not been able to get the FO to authorize an Agency rep to appear in an OP hearing, ever.
to 12:31, Any you will never see them authorize such an appearance because they know that most OPs cannot be explained in any manner that makes sense. Very few Agency employees are called as witnesses in any cases and when they are, ALJs deny the motion because they are told "it can't be done" and they have no idea what goes on behind the DO curtain. If it is an outside case (yes it does happen), Justice will swoop in and put that dolly to bed. So the incompetence is STAGGERING when you know that you will really never have to explain your decision.
I think that saying "most" overpayments cannot be explained is a bit of stretch. I have seen some that are doozies, but "most" can be explained with enough research. Finding time to research them...that's a whole other issue altogether.
Well, in my hearings, I always use an Agency "Technical Expert" to explain how the overpayment occured. It is always very interesting to see the claimant squirm as my expert calmly lays out the evidence as to when they begin working and how they signed an agreement with the Agency that they would notify the Agency when they went back to work. It's not magic folks, it's the law..
10:04, you must be a DO hearing officer and not an ALJ, because 1) ALJs do not have access to technical experts; 2) an ALJ should not take pleasure in watching a claimant squirm, never mind brag about it online and 3) this anti-claimant attitude is rampant at the DO.Please don't allude to your "hearings" and mislead most people into thinking you are an ALJ. Then again, it is simply more par for the course.
I work in a HEARING office where the ALJs regularly have someone from the field office testify at the OP hearing. The OP documentation that is provided to the ALJ at the hearing level is often confusing, has omissions, and rarely has any complete explanation as to how the amount of the OP was calculated. I highly recommend calling a technical expert to testify.
Actually, I am an ALJ and according to Hallex I do have access to technical experts and I always use them. They clarify the situation so I can explain my decision. If a claimant has engaged in wrong doing and I find this in CDR's also that don't appear in an attempt to continue to receive money, it is not my fault they squirm, is it?? And, I take no pleasure in it, I just find it interesting. Without the expert, the claimant knows nothing, with the expert, the claimant suddenly has recall of what actually happened. Very strange isn't it??
12:17 if you are an ALJ, then you should remind yourself that ODAR hearings are non-adversarial. If you do in fact have a TE at your hearings (which I sincerely doubt)then he or she is not "your" expert. I wonder if you do in fact have TEs, how do you introduce them on the record? An an "impartial" TE or simple as an employee of the Agency. Trying to backtrack on the "squirming" remark is cute, but no dice. You enjoy catching the claimant's in a lie even if it may not be a purposeful lie. Again, try to remind yourself that our hearings are "non-adversarial". I'm on leave and don't have access to the Hallex, but I would interested in what section you are referring to.12:15 I don't believe you either.However, those argumentative statements having been made, I freely admit that I could be wrong and would not be opposed to some free education. The Agency is so cumbersome and disconnected that one division could be doing something that another division doesn't have a clue about. For good or ill.I have been working these cases for almost 25 years and have done them for offices all over the country. I have yet to see a TE called. In fact, when we bring up the issue because of the legendary problems with OPs, we are told to tell the ALJs that they can't have them. So if you both are having them "regularly", please share because that would go a long way towards solving the problems with OPs.
@ 12:54.Regardless of whether a techinical expert testifies, all claimant's sign a statement acknowledging the rules for receiving benefits. Those rules require reporting all work and specifically state that any overpaid funds may be recouped by SSA. Regardless, even if such a statment were not signed, ignorance of the law is NEVER a defense. As someone above mentioned, there is only one defense:"Is individual without fault, and, if so, would recovering the overpayment either (1) defeat the purposes of the Act, or (2) be against equity and good conscience?"These questions rarely require intensive review of the file or technical expert testimony. They are common sense.Yes, it sometimes does seem "unfair" that people have to pay back money that they weren't supposed to get, but it is also unfair to all the other taxpayers if they are allowed to keep that money.
4:09 If OP issues were as clean as you make them sound, then we would not be having these discussions. It is the very unclean ones that cause the issues.Clearly if the proof is in the file, then there is no issue. However, how many times have I seen cases where the claimant reports the work activity and they are told "don't worry about it, you would not be receiving a check if you weren't entitled to it". Or how about delayed WC settlements where the system can't even comprehend the amount of the settlement and the bene keeps getting paid, keeps reporting the income and is told "don't worry about it". And these are recently incurred OPs. In those cases when the OP supposedly took place 30 years ago? Come on. Cut it out. Any one who does any type of OP work whether inside or outside knows that the Agency is incompetent in this area and has YET to be called on the carpet about it. But that could change .......
It's always amazing that the claimant reports the DO said "Don't worry about it" but have no idea when they were told that, who told it to them, or have any notes about it. The DO keeps records and I have never seen or heard of an SSA employee say to anyone about anything, "Don't worry about it". That is not in our vocabulary. Had a lady come in with 3 inches of records, however the only thing she couldn't find was a copy of the notice she sent to teh DO noting she was working. She had every other piece of paper she had received from and sent to the DO.
Do you bureaucrats really expect the John Q. Public to remember the date and the person to whom they spoke? When I did criminal law cases, I found that the typical defendant or witness almost never remembered the name of the law enforcement officer with whom they spoke, despite name tags. Bureaucrats NEVER document any such comments, even when made.I have a solution for the OP problem. Apply the Fair Credit Collections Act to the government. When a debtor receives a bill, he can object, and the collector must substantiate the bill within 30 days in order for the debt to be collectable. No proof, no pay.
9:19 - I had a hearing where the clt documented to the agency that she was working, documented to the agency her income (both in a timely fashion), and the agency expressed - in writing - several times, that her benefits would not be changed, and in fact, would increase.
Well, they would increase if she paid more into the system.
Does the public document their dealings with SSA regularly...NO. Should they...YES! I constantly tell the claimants to keep copies, get names of employees etc. Will they ever learn? If the check you depend on to live is in question, shouldn't you know what you're rebutting? The average claimant doesn't read anything we send them, doesn't learn any (not all mind you) of their program rules and gets surprised when they're overpaid...go figure. And don't start south the "lack of understanding or education" or whatever. Do we really have the dumbest population of any country?
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