I-TEAM: Miami Valley families continue to be stuck paying hefty SSA overpayment bills

TROY — The Social Security Administration says it’s paid out more than $20 billion to people who should not have gotten that money. Now, the agency wants its money back.

In South Montgomery County, Kara Kendall is on Social Security disability insurance. It’s her only source of health insurance.

She calls the money a “significant chunk” of what comes into the family’s bank account every month.

“It’s about a half to a third,” Kendall said.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: I-TEAM: ‘Social Security should help people;’ Families stuck paying hefty SSA overpayment bills

At the end of 2020 — it was an overpayment notice from the SSA that came in the mail. The government said they’d overpaid her more than $17,000.

Kendall wasn’t happy about receiving this notice. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I was angry, honestly,” She said.

To get that money back, the agency is now reducing her monthly checks.

Kendall reached out to the News Center 7 I-Team after our original report where we talked to people across the country dealing with this overpayment outrage.

“I was relieved somebody was looking into it,” she said.

An I-Team investigation found SSA audits show Americans repay between $4 and $5 billion in overpayments each year. But the grand total of overpayments the agency still has not recovered is more than $21 billion.

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Two longtime Social Security workers who lead their employee union, say critically low staffing levels mean it can be several years before workers re-assess people’s cases and catch overpayments - and even longer to send out the overpayment letters.

“We take an oath to be stewards of the trust fund. So unfortunately, we do have to collect overpayments or attempt to collect overpayments when somebody from the public has been overpaid,” Jessica LaPointe, SSA employee union representative said.

But the people say they’re upset so many American families just like theirs are now stuck with bills they can’t afford.

“Hire the people you need to keep from taking away from people that don’t have to start with,” Addie Arnold, an SSA overpayment recipient said.

“I think it’s excuses because when they sent me over payments, they said it went back all the way to 2007. So you can’t tell me in 15 years they didn’t figure it out before that,” Kendall said.

News Center 7′s I-Team has been working on this investigation for over a year and has reached out to federal lawmakers about this investigation, pressing them for answers about what they are doing to fix this.

We will continue to investigate this story and update as new information is uncovered.

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