Report skews perception of SSDI payment accuracy

Jun 09 2015

We’ll see if headline-writers have a field day with a new report out about Social Security. The possibilities could well be eye-catching: “The Social Security Administration overpaid beneficiaries $16.8 billion!” For those people who don’t read beyond headlines, those few words will indicate that another federal agency has run amok, wildly overspending and overpaying.

The reality reflected in some Denver and national news accounts is more interesting: the Social Security Administration has a remarkable accuracy rate for an agency that pays benefits to 63 million retired Americans and disabled workers. From the SSA: “…approximately 99.8 percent of all Social Security payments were free of overpayment, and nearly 99.9 percent were free of underpayment.”

The study from which the overpayments were calculated stretched over a full 10 years. So if you divide the $16.8 billion by 10, you find that overpayment averages $1.68 billion per year. Obviously, that’s a lot of money, but consider this also: the SSA will pay out over a trillion dollars this year.

So the overpayments are a tiny percentage of the good work done by the SSA in keeping America’s safety net strong for those who have retired and for those who cannot work because of illness or injury.

The SSA says overpayments are to beneficiaries who died, and to those people who were ineligible because they earned too much or became ineligible because their health improved. The agency vows to do even better than its already-stellar record on containing overpayments.

In fact, over the 10-year study period, it also recovered more than $8 billion of the overpayments and prevented another $8 billion in overpayments. Again, the SSA’s record is better than a cursory glance at the news would suggest.

For many disabled Denver workers, the issue is how to demonstrate their eligibility to the SSA and how to appeal their denied benefits claim. That process begins simply with a conversation with an experienced SSDI attorney who helps collect and assemble medical documentation, helps prepare you for your appeal and helps you get through the entire complex process.