Woodlawn, Maryland — The Social Security Administration announced Monday it is suspending a controversial program that goes after adult children of deceased taxpayers who the government claims were recipients of over-payments more than a decade ago.
Experts say that the agency overstepped its boundaries in a very large way and they should be punished, if not shut down entirely.
The program is three-years -old, and has now been halted while the program is reviewed, said Acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin.
The controversial program seized tax refunds in an effort to recoup the funds.
“While this policy of seizing tax refunds to repay decades-old Social Security over-payments might be allowed under the law, it is entirely unjust,” Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland said in a letter to Colvin.
“On the eve of Tax Day, families preparing their budgets across Maryland and our nation are counting on refunds they are owed. Garnishing these refunds to collect over-payments incurred through no fault of their own and based on decades-old errors is a policy that must not continue,” said Mikulski.
“Just because the SSA and the IRS say it is legal, doesn’t make it so.”
The Social Security Administration says it has identified about 400,000 people with old debts. They owe a total of $714 million.
The agency said in a press releases that they have collected $55 million from family members of the deceased, children that are now adults and the disabled.
Many of the debts are more than 10 years old and a large portion of the money that has been collected is over-payments that were made to children more than a decade ago.
“We want to assure the public that we do not seek restitution through tax refund offset in cases when the debt in question was established prior to the debtor turning 18 years of age,” Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said. “Also, we do not use tax refund offset to collect the debt of a person’s relative — we only use it to collect the overpaid benefits the person received for himself or herself.”
Analysts say Hinkle’s statement is completely misleading and that the IRS has seized tax refunds for debts stemming from a parent that is now deceased by means of a child that is now grown.
For now the program is suspended, but The People want to know; when is enough, enough.