Social Security inspector general has issued a report saying that nearly half of all Americans receiving Social Security disability benefits were overpaid.
While SSA has been able to recover about half the overpayments, some of the money went to the dead and felons.
The inspector general followed a randomly selected sample of 1,532 over that 10-year period who either received disability benefits or supplemental security income for the poor.
Auditors found that 45 percent of the beneficiaries were overpaid at some point during the decade by $2.9 million. Based on that result, the inspector general estimated Social Security overpaid $16.8 million from 2003 to 2014.
The report comes just a year before the Social Security Disability Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are divided over how to handle the shortfall. If Congress fails to act, beneficiaries would receive a nearly 20 percent cut in benefits.
Republicans largely oppose keeping the disability fund afloat by reallocating revenue from the Social Security retirement fund to the disability fund. The GOP-led House in January approved a rule that would make a reallocation of the payroll tax more difficult.
Instead, GOP lawmakers have said they’d like to focus on program integrity initiatives to weed out fraud and abuse to find savings.
It’s been known for years that the Social Security disability system is the easiest program to scam in government. People supposedly too crippled to work are routinely caught playing golf or other sports, or working easily around the house. A clever scammer can bamboozle a couple of doctors to sign off on his “disability” and the lucky scofflaw can collect disability the rest of his life.
Of course, there are legitimate cases of disability — or disabled vets come to mind — but the record number of Americans currently on disability suggests that there are a lot of criminals out there raking in the cash.