Investigates

Congress to hold hearing following Channel 11 Investigation into Social Security overpayments

PITTSBURGH — Members of Congress announced late Wednesday that it will hold a hearing next week on protecting beneficiaries from the harm of improper payments.

The move comes just weeks after Channel 11 exposed billions of dollars in overpayments to people around the Pittsburgh area and the country, and the Social Security Administration’s attempts to make them pay that money back.

The House Subcommittee on Social Security said they’ll examine how the SSA can better identify improper payments before they occur and provide beneficiaries with adequate notice when they do occur.

For the past month, our investigative teams in eight cities across seven states have been working together to expose questions about the Social Security program, revealing more than $21 billion in overpayments sent to beneficiaries across the country.

Many of them are poor, elderly and disabled and have gotten letters asking them to pay the money back sometimes in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Following our reporting, in collaboration with KFF Health News, several members of Congress have called for action from the SSA, including a call for this hearing, which was echoed by the AARP and the SSA employee union.

The agency has, so far, refused to tell us how many Americans have been impacted by these overpayments and has declined our repeated requests for interviews.

Just last week the SSA announced it would conduct a review of the policies and procedures surrounding overpayments but did not offer specifics on what that would entail or a timeframe when it would be completed.

Records show the agency issues about $6 billion in new overpayments every year.

The Social Security Subcommittee hasn’t said who the witnesses at next week’s hearing will be yet, but members of Congress will have the chance to ask questions about breakdowns in the system and what the SSA is doing to address those.

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