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Unpopular SSA pay-back program halted, clarified

A federal program authorizing the Social Security Administration to make a money grab for debts allegedly owed the agency that are more than a decade old has been halted by Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin.

Colvin said that she was suspending the program pending a more thorough analysis of it. Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer -- a strong critic of the government initiative, which allowed for seizures of tax refunds for alleged overpayments from the SSA to select individuals in years past -- called the program “entirely unjust.”

Among other things, here’s a central reason why the California senator and other critics of the program dislike it: In certain cases, it has demanded payback from recipients of Social Security Disability and the Supplemental Security Income programs.

In a given case, for example, an adult might have been overcompensated decades ago on behalf of a disabled child, with the SSA only now seeking to recoup that overpayment through the seizure of the grown-up child’s tax return. Adult persons with confirmed disabilities and receiving SSD payments have also had their returns seized.

The ensuing hardship seen in many instances is both obvious and glaring, making life more difficult for people already struggling financially and with disabilities or facing other obstacles.

Colvin says that persons believing they have been incorrectly assessed should “request an explanation or seek options to revolve the overpayment.”

Any person in Wisconsin or elsewhere with questions or concerns regarding the program or past overpayments might want to consult with an experienced disability and SSI attorney.

Source: Newser, "After complaints, Social Security stops having tax refunds seized to settle decade-old debts," Stephen Ohlemacher (Associated Press), April 14, 2014

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