Government Improperly Paid $571 Million in Disability Benefits to People Who Already Had Jobs

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The Social Security Administration improperly disbursed an estimated $571 million in disability benefits to people who had already returned to work, according to a government audit report.

Of the overpayments, nearly $201 million of the improperly disbursed benefits checks was due to the administration’s slow processing, and almost $371 million was the fault of the beneficiaries who didn’t complete paperwork on time, the Office of the Inspector General wrote in a report released Tuesday.

Analyzing a sample of disability cases from 2012, the IG found a total of $1.3 million in overpayments, $446,000 of which were made as a result of administrative errors, as well as $823,000 due to individuals failing to report wages that would disqualify them from benefits.

People receiving disability benefits from the SSA are granted a trial work period before the government stops sending the payments. Recipients must report when they start work so the SSA can conduct “continuing disability reviews” to determine whether the person is eligible to continue getting disability payments.

In many cases — 26 out of the total 78 instances of improper payments the IG discovered — it took the SSA an average of 155 days to process legitimate earnings reports of people on disability. The SSA’s goal is to process those cases within 45 days of the first wage report, but the bureaucracy missed the mark on 19 cases. – READ MORE

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