25 Investigates: Senate letter joins calls for answers in Social Security overpayment investigation

DEDHAM, Mass. — One day after the acting head of the Social Security Administration came under fire from lawmakers in the US House of Representatives for billions of dollars in overpayments to millions of American families, senators are now joining the call for accountability. An investigation by the 25 Investigates team and our reporting partners sparked both the congressional hearing and letter from 3 senators to Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi Wednesday.

The letter from Senators Ron Wyden. Bob Casey and Sherrod Brown writes, “We are deeply concerned that beneficiaries are receiving overpayment notices in error.”

The letter specifically references coverage from 25 Investigates and our reporting partners KFF Health News and Cox Media Group, and includes a link to our report earlier this week, on complaints from families that in some cases, covid stimulus checks triggered SSI overpayment notices.

As 25 Investigates has been reporting for the last month, families who receive these notices often have to pay thousands of dollars back to the government or have their benefits frozen. Families here in our area and around the country have reached out to tell us how the so-called “clawbacks” have caused a financial hardship for them.

Ohio Democrat Sen. Brown told our reporting partners Thursday, “I want to fix this. I want to make sure that Social Security can continue to deliver, since I think that first check went out in 1941 and it’s never missed a payment. And I’m proud of that because that means government can really deliver. But I also hold them accountable when they don’t quite do their jobs right.”

When House Representatives pressed the Dr. Kilolo Kijakazi Wednesday about why mistakes are being made, leading to the overpayments in the first place, she pointed to staffing problems at the administration, adding “We will be doing a top-to-bottom review to see how we can further reduce the error rate.”

Wednesday’s letter from senators gives the administration 30 days to address the questions they’re asking. 25 Investigates will continue to monitor the SSA’s response.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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