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Experts warn to watch for Social Security Disability overpayments

It seems one can’t tune into any of the St. Louis airwaves these days from more than five minutes without hearing about some new scandal involving Social Security fraud. People attempting to game the system, as well as shortcomings within the system itself that have led to improper payments have seemingly forced the SSA to tighten those qualifications for Social Security disability benefits for injury or mental illness even further. Yet these examples of fraud and abuse shouldn’t be seen as representative of the SSD beneficiary population as a whole. Most view these benefits as a brief form of assistance while they prepare themselves to be able to reenter the workforce after an accident injury.

Yet for some, their issues with the SSA don’t begin until after they stop receiving the payments. A recent Government Accountability Office study estimated that the SSA had made $1.3 billion in disability overpayments during over a two-year period. While that sounds alarming to some, even more alarming may the phone calls from the SSA asking for that money back.

Many of the stories of beneficiaries now being asked to repay SSD funds are similar to that of a 33-year-old veteran. After losing his foot in Iraq, he began receiving SSD payments while he was rehabbing and getting accustomed to his new prosthetic foot. Once he was able to secure employment again, he reported his new income to the SSA, expecting the payments to stop. They did until last year, when he received a $75,000 deposit into bank account. He called the SSA and informed them of the error. After a five month investigation, he was told he needed to repay the agency, but at a different amount. Not wanting to be later accused of fraud, he has filed an appeal. While that appeal is still pending, he has had to pay close to $23,000 in tax on this extra money.

Experts caution against simply trusting In the SSA if discrepancies are noticed with one’s benefits. Contact them immediately if you have any concerns. If necessary, a Social Security lawyer may be helpful in resolving such an issue.

Source: “Social Security overpays millions, wants their money back” Oct. 28, 2013

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