NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

$1.3 Billion Improperly Distributed by Social Security

September 20, 2013

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says the federal government may have paid $1.29 billion in Social Security disability benefits to 36,000 people who had too much income from work to qualify, says CNBC.

At least one recipient collected a potential overpayment of $90,000 without being caught by the Social Security Administration, according to the report, while others collected $57,000 and $74,000.

The GAO also says its estimate of "potentially improper" payments, which was based on comparing federal wage data to Disability Insurance rolls between 2010 and 2013, "likely understated" the scope of the problem, but that an exact number could not be determined without case by case investigations.

  • To qualify for disability, recipients must show that they have a physical or mental impairment that prevents gainful employment, and is either terminal or expected to last more than a year.
  • Once approved, the average monthly payment to a recipient is just under $1,000.
  • In fiscal 2011, more than 10 million Americans received disability benefits totaling more than $128 billion.

Source: Joel Seidman, "Social Security Overpays $1.3 Billion in Benefits: GAO," CNBC, September 13, 2013.


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