$3.2 Billion Overpaid in Benefits; Social Security Disability Aid Cited in Audit
Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A federal audit estimates that the Social Security Administration overpaid nearly $3.2 billion in disability benefits since 1996 to people who were working and that it failed to detect almost $1.4 billion of the amount overpaid.
The purpose of the yearlong audit by the inspector general's office for SSA was to determine how effective Social Security was in tracking work activity of recipients of Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance
to find out whether these beneficiaries still qualified for payments.
"Individuals may no longer be entitled to disability benefits if their impairments improve or they demonstrate their ability to engage in substantial gainful activity by working," said the audit, released last month.
The report pointed out that recipients of Title II disability benefits - about 6.5 million people - are "required to report work activity" but "often fail to report their earnings."
Consequently, SSA must to compare the Master Earnings File, which logs all U.S. workers, to those receiving Title II benefits.
In its review of 275 sample cases of beneficiaries who had earnings reported to the MEF from 1996 to 2000, the audit found that SSA analyzed only 59 percent.
Based on that sample, and the assumption that overpayments persisted, the IG's office estimated that 171,620 beneficiaries nationwide were overpaid $3.15 billion in disability benefits from 1996 to 2004 because of work activity. …