I-TEAM: Proposal puts 10-year limit on how far back Social Security overpayments can be recouped

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is a new push in Congress aimed at trying to help some Social Security beneficiaries who have been told they owe money because the government mistakenly overpaid them.

This comes after our Cox Media Group investigation in partnership with KFF Health News exposed billions of dollars in overpayments and efforts to claw the money back.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: I-TEAM: ‘It’s hell;’ Social Security clawbacks driving some into homelessness

A bipartisan bill in the House introduced by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) would limit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) overpayment lookback period to ten years.

Currently, there is no limit and the agency can try to fix errors that are decades old.

In 2020, we told you about a Georgia woman who was told she received a notice saying she owed money from a mistake SSA made four decades ago.

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed the new head of the Social Security Administration, Martin O’Malley.

>> RELATED: ‘Social Security should help people;’ Families stuck paying hefty SSA overpayment bills

His supporters on the Senate Finance Committee, which serves as a watchdog of the agency, say O’Malley has vowed to prioritize addressing the problem.

“Martin O’Malley understands that there is no Republican or no Democratic way to make sure that we deal with these overpayments,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). “We’ve got to get this fixed.”

Wyden said because of these problems, Senators on the committee will be getting monthly updates about what’s being done to prevent overpayments.

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