SSA’s [Social Security Administration's] administrative finality rules permit it to continue paying incorrect payment amounts to some beneficiaries and recipients. During our prior and current reviews, we determined that SSA did not correct beneficiary and recipients’ payment amounts when it invoked administrative finality. For example, we identified a beneficiary receiving a full retirement benefit under her own SSN [Social Security Number] and another full benefit under her deceased spouse’s SSN that resulted in an $870 monthly overpayment. The overpayments started in July 1982 and created a total overpayment of approximately $215,000. Since our 2007 recommendation to revise its administrative finality rules, SSA has paid this beneficiary approximately an additional $40,000.10
We identified another beneficiary receiving a full retirement benefit under her own SSN and a full benefit under her deceased spouse’s SSN that resulted in a $373 monthly overpayment. The overpayments started in June 1988 and created a total overpayment of approximately $85,000. SSA had paid this beneficiary approximately $16,000 since our 2007 recommendation. Because of SSA’s administrative finality rules, it will not reopen these cases and these overpayments will continue increasing throughout the beneficiaries’ lifetimes. In addition, SSA does not pursue recovery of these types of improper payments.Is this an accurate statement of Social Security's position? I haven't seen one lately but I've certainly seen cases in past years where Social Security changed current benefits and declared large overpayments in this type of case.
Really, OIG should not be pressuring Social Security on the overpayment part of this kind of case. There's a very good argument that it's against equity and good conscience to try to collect an overpayment when the mistake was clearly made by the agency, could not have reasonably been caught by the beneficiary but should have been caught by the agency's data systems. "Against equity and good conscience" is enough under the statute to get an overpayment waived.