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Smith, Ferguson, LaHood Call on Social Security Administration to Comply with Law, Implement Improper Payment Protections

July 31, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seven years since enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which authorized the creation of a “Payroll Information Exchange” (PIE) at the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reduce improper payments, the SSA has failed to implement the exchange. In a letter to Acting SSA Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08), Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Drew Ferguson (GA-03), and Work and Welfare Subcommittee Chairman Darin LaHood (IL-16) are calling on the SSA to implement the PIE program immediately, provide to the Committee what steps the agency is taking to complete that task, and an explanation for why it has delayed this action for so long.

Smith, Ferguson, and LaHood highlight how – given the sheer size of the SSA’s benefit programs – it is imperative the agency tamp down on improper payments on behalf of taxpayers and beneficiaries alike:

As you are well aware, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is the steward of the federal government’s largest expenditure of taxpayer dollars, responsible for managing over $1 trillion in payments to roughly 70 million beneficiaries annually. With a program this size, getting even a small number of payments wrong, whether overpaying or underpaying, can result in billions of dollars of improper payments. Resolving an improper payment once it’s occurred not only adds to the SSA’s workloads, but more importantly can be unduly burdensome for a beneficiary. It is therefore imperative that the SSA fully utilize the authorities granted by Congress to limit improper payments before they occur.

Additional Background:

  • In Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, Social Security’s combined Disability Insurance (DI) and Old-Age and Survivors Insurance programs made roughly $2.5 billion in improper payments, nearly $2 billion of which were overpayments.
  • In FY 2021, Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) made more than $4 billion in overpayments.
  • In 2021, the SSA published a notice of implementation of the PIE in the Federal Register; however, no regulations have been published and the agency now claims a notice of proposed rulemaking should not be expected until January 2024 – more than eight years after the program was authorized.
  • The PIE program will establish data exchanges with payroll data providers to reduce improper payments, improve administration of the DI and SSI benefit programs, and alleviate monthly reporting burdens for beneficiaries.

Read the full letter here.