Last week, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced that it was suspending a program where thousands of people were having their tax refunds seized for overpayments that may have occurred more than a decade ago.
According to the Associated Press, acting SSA commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said she has directed an immediate halt to the program while the agency does a review. Some members of Congress said citizens were reportedly being forced into repaying overpayments that were paid to their parents or guardians when they were children.
“While this policy of seizing tax refunds to repay decades-old Social Security overpayments might be allowed under the law, it is entirely unjust,” Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said in a letter to Colvin, according to the AP.
The SSA said that it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million, according to the AP. To date, the agency has collected about $55 million.
A 2008 law that allows federal government agencies to seize tax refunds that are more than 10 years old authorized the recollection program. Previously, there was a 10-year limit on collections.
“If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an overpayment under this program, I encourage them to request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment,” Colvin said in a statement.
Can the SSA Take My Tax Refund for Overpayments?
The simple answer to this question is yes. However, various circumstances make collections prohibited. For example, the SSA’s own regulations mention that some forms of collect are only possible if (a) the person is not at fault, and (b) the recovery would not “deprive a person of income required for ordinary and necessary living expenses.”
This does not mean that you should avoid contacting the SSA or spend money that you think might be an overpayment—it may be wise to contact the agency if you feel like you may have received an overpayment, to avoid a potential headache and collection attempt later.
If you have questions about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), contact a Tulsa Social Security Disability attorney. We offer free evaluations of your case. You can visit our Facebook page, our LinkedIn page and our Twitter page if you have questions about the disability process.
Troutman & Troutman, P.C. – Tulsa Social Security Disability lawyers