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Ways and Means GOP Leaders Applaud Social Security Administration Decision to Waive Agency-Caused Debt

August 27, 2020

WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX), Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Republican Leader Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Social Security Subcommittee Republican Leader Tom Reed (R-NY) released the following statement after the Social Security Administration (SSA) released an interim final rule streamlining the waiver process for certain overpayment debts some beneficiaries may have incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Americans should never be on the line for debt that was caused by government decisions,” Brady, Walorski, and Reed said. “In March, the SSA took unprecedented measures to protect beneficiaries’ income and healthcare coverage during the pandemic by not taking certain actions. This choice caused individuals to be overpaid, through no fault of their own. This decision is the right call, and we applaud Commissioner Saul’s move to streamline the process to have this debt waived for taxpayers.” 

Background: Under current policy, if an individual is overpaid by the SSA, they can request a waiver to appeal the repayment. SSA will waive the overpayment if the individual is without fault in causing the overpayment, and if recovery would defeat the purpose of the program or would be against equity and good conscience. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI) only, the SSA may also waive the overpayment if it would impede the administration of the program.

Under this new rule, which came in response to COVID-19, for Social Security, SSI, and Special Veterans Benefits overpayments incurred between March 1 and September 30, 2020 as a result of the SSA’s decision to suspend adverse actions, the SSA will apply a streamlined waiver process. Consistent with current policy, individuals who owe an overpayment must request a waiver. If the overpayment was incurred between March 1 and September 30, the SSA will presume the individual was without fault in causing the overpayment and will determine recovery would be against equity and good conscious, without requiring the individual to provide specific information.

The SSA expects individuals will be able to provide necessary information over the phone to an employee without advance preparation during an estimated 5-minute call.  The Social Security actuary estimates approximately $238 million in debt owed will be waived.

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