Social Security Commissioner promises to put an end to benefit clawback cruelty

Social Security Commissioner Unveils Plan to Address Overpayment Issues

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD), President Biden’s nominee to be the next Commissioner of Social Security, recently testified during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Three months into his role, O’Malley unveiled a plan to tackle overpayment issues that have led the agency to demand some beneficiaries repay benefits.

“We are no longer going to have that clawback cruelty of intercepting 100% of a payment if people do not respond to our notice,” O’Malley told the Senate Committee on Aging. The plan comes after beneficiaries who received excess benefit payments have received letters from the Social Security Administration demanding repayment of those sums.

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One beneficiary in Savannah, Georgia, received an overpayment notice for $58,000 “through no fault of her own,” which led to the reduction of her monthly benefits, making it difficult for her to pay her rent. This human cost underscores the importance of addressing these policy issues, as indicated by Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia.

In addition to overpayment issues, O’Malley plans to address long wait times for service on the agency’s 800 number and a backlog in disability benefit applications. He emphasized the need for additional funding from Congress to improve the agency’s customer service crisis.

During the Senate hearing, O’Malley introduced a new four-part plan to change how the Social Security handles overpayment issues. The changes include no longer intercepting 100% of a beneficiary’s monthly benefits, extending repayment plans to up to 60 months, and making it easier for beneficiaries to request waivers for repayment.

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These changes aim to provide a more reasonable and compassionate approach to addressing overpayment issues and improve the overall customer service experience for Social Security beneficiaries. O’Malley emphasized the importance of training and system improvements to support these changes.

As the agency works towards implementing these changes, beneficiaries can expect a more considerate and supportive approach to handling overpayment issues in the future.

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