Disability Insurance: Work Activity Indicates Certain Social Security Disability Insurance Payments Were Potentially Improper

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "On the basis of analyzing Social Security Administration (SSA) data on individuals who were Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries as of December 2010 and earnings data from the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), GAO estimates that SSA made $1.29 billion in potential cash benefit overpayments to about 36,000 individuals as of January 2013. The exact number of individuals who received improper disability payments and the exact amount of improper payments made to those individuals cannot be determined without detailed case investigations by SSA. These DI beneficiaries ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 15, 2013.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "On the basis of analyzing Social Security Administration (SSA) data on individuals who were Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries as of December 2010 and earnings data from the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), GAO estimates that SSA made $1.29 billion in potential cash benefit overpayments to about 36,000 individuals as of January 2013. The exact number of individuals who received improper disability payments and the exact amount of improper payments made to those individuals cannot be determined without detailed case investigations by SSA. These DI beneficiaries represent an estimated 0.4 percent of all primary DI beneficiaries as of December 2010. Using a different methodology that includes additional causes of overpayments not considered in GAO's analysis, SSA estimated its DI overpayments in fiscal year 2011 were $1.62 billion, or 1.27 percent of all DI benefits in that fiscal year. GAO estimated DI program overpayments on the basis of work activity performed by two populations of individuals. The first population received potential overpayments due to work activity during the DI program's mandatory 5-month waiting period--a statutory program requirement to help ensure that SSA does not pay benefits to individuals who do not have long-term disabilities. Prior to receiving benefits, individuals must complete a 5-month waiting period, in which the individual cannot exceed a certain level of earnings, known as substantial gainful activity, during any month in order to be eligible for DI benefits. Earnings that exceed program limits during the waiting period indicate that individuals might not have long-term disabilities. The second population received potential overpayments due to work activity beyond the program's trial work period--the trial work period consists of up to 9 months in which a DI beneficiary may return to work without affecting her or his benefits. However, beneficiaries whose earnings consistently exceed program limits after completing a trial work period are generally no longer entitled to benefits."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 15, 2013

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Disability Insurance: Work Activity Indicates Certain Social Security Disability Insurance Payments Were Potentially Improper, report, August 15, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc299269/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.