Social Security Overpaid $1 Billion a Year for Disability Insurance Program

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
(photo illustration: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

The Social Security Administration (SSA) overpaid beneficiaries of disability insurance by an average of more than $1 billion annually over nine years, according to a government audit (pdf).


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed SSA’s Disability Insurance (DI) program from fiscal years 2005 through 2014 and discovered the agency overpaid $11 billion in benefits during that time. The mistakes involved “beneficiaries who had returned to work and had earnings above program limits,” the GAO reported.


Auditors also noted the agency’s “process for handling work reports by beneficiaries has internal control and other weaknesses that increase the risk of overpayments, even when DI beneficiaries follow program rules and report work and earnings.”


In some instances, SSA staff bypassed established procedures, according to the GAO, failing to initiate tracking of work activity properly and to issue receipts to beneficiaries.


The agency also suffers from limited oversight and “lacks procedures for how staff should screen” certain reports. It also does not ensure “work reports are systematically reviewed and closed with appropriate action.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Disability Insurance: SSA Could Do More to Prevent Overpayments or Incorrect Waivers to Beneficiaries (U.S. Government Accountability Office) (pdf)

VA Overpaid $1 Billion in Disability Evaluations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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