The Social Security Administration’s Acting Director Carolyn Colvin announced yesterday that the SSA is going to immediately halt referrals to the Treasury Offset Department of debts that are 10 years old or older. The press release reads:
I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department.
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.
For more see the SSA’s press release here.
This announcement seems like a step in the right direction. Every year, I will see clients come in with questions about “new” overpayment notices that are actually on debts from decades ago. Such debts have always struck me as unfair given that the actual file establishing whether or not the debt was really owed has usually been lost. More than once, I have seen a client hit with tens of thousands in overpayment based upon a miscalculation on the SSA’s part from several decades before. That sort of thing just shouldn’t happen.
This does raise at least one question. What is the SSA going to do about the people already on payment plans (or having their checks reduced) to repay decades old debts?