Congress holds hearing on Social Security overpayments following Action News Jax investigation

WASHINGTON — An Action News Jax investigation helped bring about a congressional hearing that confirmed Social Security overpaid millions of people, and now, it’s demanding the money back.


Plus, three senators are looking into our reporting, which uncovered one of the reasons this is happening.

A demand for accountability from the Social Security Administration over billions of dollars in overpayments took place Wednesday at the Capitol. Members of Congress held a hearing to figure out why improper payments were happening in the first place.

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The agency blames a lack of funding.

“Our staffing shortages absolutely contribute to overpayments,” explained Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi, the SSA Acting Commissioner.

For more than a year, Action News Jax Investigates has been asking the agency how many Americans have been asked to pay back Social Security overpayments, and now, for the first time, we learned it’s millions, with nearly a million this year and more than a million last year.

“It’s a lot of our fellow Americans, and it’s a lot of money,” said Georgia Representative Drew Ferguson (R).

Read: Social Security reviewing overpayment policies, procedures following Action News Jax investigation

The hearing comes after our investigative teams in eight cities across seven states in collaboration with KFF Health News heard from beneficiaries around the country impacted by overpayments. Many of them are poor, elderly and disabled and have gotten letters asking them to pay the money back in sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.

We also uncovered many recipients who have had their payments frozen when they couldn’t pay it back.

“I’ve put in place a review team to look at even more ways we can improve,” Kijakazi told Congress.

Read: COVID relief payments triggered feds to demand money back from Social Security recipients

The Social Security Administration said that review includes looking into what’s causing improper payments. We discovered one cause earlier this week when we reported how the COVID stimulus checks counted against some recipients. The Social Security Administration was not supposed to let that happen.

Now, three senators are looking into the issue based on our reporting.

The letter gives the administration 30 days to address the questions they’re asking.

Read: Social Security overpayments draw scrutiny and outrage from members of Congress

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