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Stressed out man with calculator, papers.
Last week, the Washington Post had the story about how Treasury and Social Security had suddenly started going after old overpayments, sometimes decades-old, by garnishing the tax refunds of family members who didn't even receive the overpayments. Turns out, the Farm Bill of 2008 had a provision slipped in—so far how it got slipped in hasn't been revealed—that ended the 10 year statute of limitations on collecting debts. Treasury and the Social Security Administration have stepped up that collection in the past three years, but after the Post story, Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and recipients raised hell with the agency. Now, Social Security has announced it will be suspending the practice.
Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said Monday she has directed an immediate halt to the program while the agency does a review. […]

The Social Security Administration says it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million.

So far, the agency says it has collected $55 million. […]

Colvin said she was suspending the program "pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department."

The overpayments could be the result of disability payments or survivor benefits, overpayments that the people who were being collected from had no idea about. It was a ridiculous policy for a piddly—in the grand scheme of things—amount of money, and good riddance to it. Congress needs to revisit that debt collection policy, and if it's worried about revenue for Social Security do something that will really raise some money, like raise the payroll tax cap.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 09:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders and Daily Kos.

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