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Ways and Means Committee Leaders Call on Social Security Administration to Extend Relief to Overpaid Seniors and People with Disabilities

August 17, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC--Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John B. Larson (D-CT) called on the Social Security Administration (SSA) to continue relief for seniors and people with disabilities who have received extra benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while Congress works towards a fair resolution of the situation.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, SSA rightly prioritized making sure that eligible seniors, survivors, and people with disabilities received their benefits, and temporarily stopped most work related to reducing or cutting off benefits. As a result, since March some beneficiaries have received extra Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, through no fault of their own. SSA’s action has provided much-needed financial relief to beneficiaries who, like all Americans, have had their lives thrown into crisis by the COVID-19 pandemic. These beneficiaries did not know they were being overpaid, could do nothing to prevent these extra payments, and most have little ability to pay them back. The lawmakers recently introduced the Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 7830), to protect beneficiaries from being forced to repay these COVID-19 overpayments.

“SSA’s suspension of overpayment collection has meant that, by no fault of their own, some of our most vulnerable constituents have unknowingly received extra benefit payments,” wrote the Chairs. “We are deeply concerned that attempts to recover these COVID-19 overpayments would frighten and harm people of color, seniors, people with severe disabilities, and other beneficiaries who live in or near poverty and rely on Social Security or SSI to survive. SSA has not notified beneficiaries that they are being overpaid, and most will have spent their checks immediately. SSI recipients, in particular, will have thought that they had to spend their benefits to avoid reaching the $2,000 asset limit and losing SSI eligibility.”

The lawmakers urged “SSA to continue to temporarily suspend overpayment processing and collection while we work toward agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package which includes the Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act. We also urge SSA to use all existing authority to provide beneficiaries with immediate relief from these COVID-19 overpayments.”

The Fairness for Seniors and People with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act has been endorsed by AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Association on Health and Disability, American Council of the Blind, Autism Society of America, Center for Public Representation, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, Easterseals, Epilepsy Foundation, Gray Panthers, Justice in Aging, Lakeshore Foundation, Latinos for a Secure Retirement, NAACP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Disability Representatives, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, National Employment Law Project, National Industries for the Blind, National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, Social Security Works, and The Arc of the United States.

The full text of the letter is available HERE.

More information on H.R. 7830 is available HERE.