Jul 14, 2015

OIG Wants Social Security To Keep Trying To Collect Those 50 Year Old Debts

     Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has done a study on the agency's practice of collecting ancient debts -- many over thirty years old and some as old as fifty years -- via offsets of tax refunds. OIG doesn't see any problem with this and basically urges the agency to keep doing it, regardless of the age of the debt. 
     The report says that "for all debts, SSA’s beneficiary records contained detailed information to establish how and when the overpayment occurred." Any field office employees want to comment on this statement?
     The lack of a statute of limitations on collection of overpayments by administrative offset is a disgrace in my opinion. This needs to be addressed by Congress.
     Update: The Washington Post is reporting on this issue.


Anonymous said...

If you would just stop trying to apply logic to government policy, you'll save yourself a lot of headaches.

For the overpayments that can actually be explained, I see no problem collecting. If we can't explain it, now I've got issues.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit my experience is decade(s) out of date but if you really knew the programs and the MBR and SSR, it was possible to work out a timeline of events of what happened based on the transactions and notice paragraphs that were used. (Doing just that was my job for 2 years in a specialized unit.) But in those cases, the trans and notice history was recent (no more than 5 years usually) and you could figure things out reasonably well. Not so sure today's CR, looking at a case processed by teh systems and policies of the 70s and 80s would be so adept at turning that data into a reasonable reconstruction.

Anonymous said...

Congress did address it. SSA used to have a 10 year limit on collecting overpayments. That was eliminated in the Farm Bill several years ago.

Anonymous said...

re: 7:48AM Anon

As a current technical expert, I can tell you it is a nightmare now. All the folders on these old overpayments are long destroyed. The MBR reflects only how payments were supposed to have been made, not what was actually paid and when. Stuff has been overwritten and converted and taken off and added on so many times that it is often literally impossible to explain how an overpayment occurred. Plus, the program policy manuals don't contain the older computational methods used back in the stone ages, so you often can't even recreate the comps used to compute the benefits in the first place.

The simple fact of the matter is that the agency literally has no clue how much is owed in overpayments because the systems that track and handle them are so antiquated to be useless. Of course, 85% of the software the agency uses is on the virge of being useless anyway, so I guess that is par for the course.

And I totally agree with 6:14am anon, if we can't explain it, we've got no business in hell trying to collect it. And I don't mean the standard retarded "we paid you $X when we should have paid you $Y. You where therefore overpaid $Z" which is the standard overpayment notice drivel nowadays. Actually explaining it.

If they are so hot to collect these overpayments, they need to set up a specialized unit somewhere just to review them and set them up for collection with documentation.

It will never happen, though. The current leadership of the agency has their heads stuck so far up their arses that they have to pass gas to breathe.

Anonymous said...

The policy kind of reminds me of the scene in A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge says "Tuppence is Tuppence."

Anonymous said...

Wait long enough and it is easy to rewrite or forget history. Best is just to pay the $2 (sorry for those of you who never heard of or forgot that joke, but that just proves my point).

Rita Metts said...

I wonder how they determine the amount owed, and if they consider if the beneficiary could have known if they were being overpaid.

Anonymous said...

2:20pm: so you're OK with having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to SSA just because they say so? And you're willing to pay this 30 years after the supposed debt was incurred? These old debts are not being satisfactorily explained and SSA is going after anyone who ever got a check on that record, not necessarily the overpaid person himself/herself. The whole thing is ridiculous and frightening. And, SSA is not following the law on reconsiderations or waivers, either.

Anonymous said...

I had an overpayment that was due to a miscalculation on social security's end. I was able to get the overpayment waived.

But what would happen if that scenario occurred 50 years ago? How could one prove that the overpayment was a mistake when the original parties are now deceased?

Anonymous said...

I get these things occasionally; real messes. As Anon 6:19 said above, there is no evidence, not even a coherent reconstruction, of what was done and/or how. I've found that there was no OP is several such cases, now waiting for the remands.