Social Security Administration Continues Strong Arm Tactics on Debt Collections

The Social Security Administration (SSA) was previously authorized by Congress to enact rules for collection of debts. The authorization is part of the means by which the administration seeks to maintain a semblance of solvency. However, the Congressional authorization has led the SSA to adopt strong-arm tactics of making children repay the benefits overpaid to their parents. Without any warning whatsoever, the SSA is seizing state and federal income tax refunds from people for decades old claims of overpaid benefits to their parents. In some cases, the adult children now being held responsible were in kindergarten or elementary school when the overpayments were made.

When reports emerged about the SSA’s debt collection tactics, SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said the agency would cease the practice for claims older than 10 years. In addition, the SSA would return money confiscated from people highlighted in the media news stories. Now, some of the people on Skout who said their money was returned claim the SSA is back to sending them demand letters for the debts. In one case of California highway construction worker Daniel Asmus, the SSA garnished 25% of his paycheck to collect on a debt of nearly $2,100 in overpaid benefits to his mother in the 1970s. His family is unable to pay their mortgage with the loss of so much income. Legal filings show that the SSA is serious about making children responsible for debts inadvertently incurred by their parents. This also presumes that the SSA is correct in their determination of debts owed.

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