Jan 13, 2017

OIG Report On Repeated Overpayments

   From a recent report by Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG):
We found 70 (61 percent) of the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) beneficiaries and 59 (53 percent) of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients in our sample [of claimants who already had a history of three or more earnings related overpayments] were repeatedly overpaid because of their earnings. We believe SSA could have found these 129 individuals at fault for causing or contributing to the overpayments because of their repeated failure to comply with Agency earnings reporting requirements. SSA also could have further developed these cases to determine whether punitive actions could have been used as a deterrent against future overpayments. However, we found the Agency did not apply these actions to any of the individuals in our sample. 
Based on our sample, we project SSA overpaid 
  • 49,420 OASDI beneficiaries almost $966 million and 
  • 94,480 SSI recipients almost $924 million. 
As of February 2016, we estimate SSA had not collected almost $178 million of these OASDI overpayments and more than $447 million of these SSI overpayments.
     Social Security had identified these overpayments and has had some success in collecting them. What more does OIG want? They say they want people punished. There are provisions in the Social Security Act that allow punishment. I've noticed that OIG really likes to recommend that others use those provisions to punish people. However, when OIG has the opportunity to punish people itself, they don't seem to me to be quite so bloodthirsty. It's real people and things get messy. The overpayments are often small, the claimants not too bright and the fault not so clear. Punishment seems like overkill.
     By the way, note that 39% of the overpayments to Title II recipients and 47% to SSI recipients weren't the fault of the claimant. Let that sink in. The claimants were reporting earnings and Social Security didn't do what it was supposed to do a lot of the time. You also have to wonder how many of the cases where OIG wants to punish claimants are cases where the claimant reported the earnings but Social Security never kept a record of them reporting earnings. That happens. If you just look at computer records, it looks like the claimants were bad actors but when you start talking to the claimants, it's not so clear. This is just one of the reasons why Social Security isn't all that interested in imposing punishments.
     But, hey, this kind of report pleases Congressional Republicans and that's what it's all about. Right?


Anonymous said...

I haven't read the report yet but I suspect OIG did not do the obvious analysis because they usually don't. How many of those that OIG claims could have been at fault have memory impairments? How many have difficulty following complex instructions? How many of those have literacy problems? Any of those could and likely would interfere with reporting, in addition to the problems Charles mentions. Reporting results in a way likely to instigate a witch hunt against the very few disability recipients who are actually able to attempt work and willing to try is a great way to convince everyone on disability to never even try to work. Way to go OIG.

Anonymous said...

These reports are a joke. Any field office claims specialist (formerly called claims representatives) can tell give you many examples of claimants who report the earnings faithfully yet still end up overpaid due to how SSI benefits are computed. For those interested, it is a result of retrospective monthly accounting and the transitional computation cycle. These people are not at fault and should not be punished.

Also, for the claimants who are at fault, the punitive actions OIG refers to can take a couple of forms - penalties and administrative sanctions. Both require detailed actions on the part of claims representatives. Sanctions normally have to be approved by regional office staff. There are reasons why these things are not pursued and it's not because field office staff are unaware of them. Field offices are barely keeping up with the mission critical workloads - paying claims. I don't know of any claims specialist willing to sacrifice the time needed to go down that rabbit hole when so many people are awaiting adjudication of their benefits.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but given how few of the actual fraud referrals that are given to OIG to pursue result in anything being done, I can't take their holier than thou obliviousness seriously. OIG only has b*lls when it comes to telling others what they should have done. Put them in the drivers seat and all of a sudden they are all Caspar Milquetoast.

Anonymous said...

Well said by all. Anyone can see it is more cost effective to initiate redeterminations on the many who have failed to report wages creating IRS interface alerts than it is to do time consuming administrative sanctions.

Dina Padilla said...

What about underpayments to SSA recipients? There is no way or path to file a complaint let alone get to contact someone for underpayments owed or file on the way of the overt ways of the fraud involved to minimize monthly payments, several times over for numerous recipients. Injured workers getting offsets and then SSI instead of SSDI. SSA ALJ's are involved in collusion with the WC ALJS. to keep the injured from receiving their rightful worker compensation benefits and also, all of their SSA benefits WHAT A RACKET to hurt those who were and are already hurt or made ill on the job.
The AFL-CIO joined in this contract with injured/ill workers and starting in 1987, injured workers went from 2 years of temporary disability to guess what? SSA & Medicare. 1987-2005, 1.3 million in C alone and that was 12 years ago! But injured/ill workers got SSI instead and where did the rest of the employers FICA money go? WAITING for over 2 years without medical care or a way to provide for oneself who is injured or unable to provide for their own children or spouses makes this is unconscionable and many f them were women, black & other minorities, 40 and those who were born here, making top wages and benefits and many were union members. All of that gone to bring in illegals for lesser pay and no benefits
A racket and a scam on Americans who worked several decades and were deliberately hurt all over again by the U.S. Congress, President Reagan,, the AFLCIO , SSA, H&HS, U.S.Treasury, a whole host of agencies and legislators AND THE lawyers and doctors they hired WHO ALL DEEMED INJURED WORKERS INTO A LIFE OF PURE HELL & then DARED TO called the injured workers ,CRIMINALS.
Over 100,000 die every year that is not aired. THIS is huge scandal of how American workers, their lives and limbs were and are sacrificed, forced into destitution, left to die without medical care or homeless.
I'm old enough to remember that homelessness was only those who were called wino's and lived on wino road(Maxwell st, in Chicago), What wasn't see on Maxwell, were women, children, elderly or young(students) or older sober men. What is really an abomination is that all of these folks now are viewed as mentally ill. The mentally ill are the ones running the country who create laws and policies that cause the problems we as working Americans face while only rewarding those who come here illegally and then those illegals expect representation and get it including SSA benefits, that they did not pay into!

Dina Padilla said...

I forgot to mention vets that are in the homeless class who are also called mentally ill and viewed and treated as criminals by the VA & DOD when they want medical treatment and their other owed and promised benefits. They will get their SSA but not their VA benefits. This is all done with more unions who are in with govt employers.
But here lies the biggest rub for injured ill or dead workers and their families. They have no representation and most other Americans are unaware of just how big the injured workers problems are, how many there really are and worse, are totally ignored by our so called legislators or "so called leaders in our states and D.C. But to deny them the very basics of a monthly stipend of their SSDI and then force them to pay for their own Medicare (after 2 years of being totally disabled and no WC medical care or WC wages) out of their SSI benefits instead of the employer paying their share of comp & SSDI is truly an abomination of our U.S.Govt.

Dina Padilla said...

To add to my comments. I don't have any problem with people coming here legally but illegally NO! What has become apparent is that the illegals not only get our benefits that we paid for BUT now because of legislators not wanting to address the illegal immigration issues that benefit corporations, the govt and other business owners, but since 1986, for over 30 years EXPECT with their own arrogance, EXPECT to be "REPRESENTED" by the legislators who themselves have allowed all of this. When illegals come and say that our legislators are THEIR legislators, it is no wonder that American workers, injured workers, veterans, the elderly, the homeless, the homeless students who are paying outrageous high interest loans, the poor children, out of work Americans who have lost their jobs to illegals by way of big corporations who have let go workers via workers comp which include the loss of their pensions, and health care benefits in the interim of being injured on the job and then outsourcing to overseas and here too, their rights as U.S. citizens have been totally unrepresented AND TO GO further, deliberately so while the illegals get to hold, rally's, protests and complete access to OUR legislators. When illegals from many different countries can get access to courts via their "civil rights" being violated, wave their own countries flag and then burning ours as a right, something is gravely wrong with our legislators who claim to represent us all.
BTW, I am an American born citizen coming from legal immigrant grandparents and didn't vote for Trump.
This is not counting the illegals access to medical care, food stamps, housing, loans for college, businesses, training and other monthly allowances which is everything that we paid for and CANNOT GET!
Again, we as injured workers have no representation whatsoever only to be acknowledged as human capital for govt and business to only support illegals..

Tim said...

How about setting up a system that's much easier and cheaper to administer? Then, theoretically, there would be fewer errors by SSA, resulting in fewer overpayments, theoretically!

Margaret Kibbee said...

Illegals do not get benefits.

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