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Social Security clawbacks hit a million more people than agency chief told Congress

David Hilzenrath, Jodie Fleischer, Cox Media Group, KFF Health News on

Published in News & Features

The Social Security Administration has demanded money back from more than 2 million people a year — more than twice as many people as the head of the agency disclosed at an October congressional hearing.

That’s according to a document KFF Health News and Cox Media Group obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration Kilolo Kijakazi read aloud from the document during the hearing but repeatedly left out an entire category of beneficiaries displayed on the paper as well.

The document indicates the fallout from Social Security overpayments and clawbacks is much wider than Kijakazi acknowledged under direct questioning from a House Ways and Means subcommittee that oversees the federal agency.

In a statement for this article, SSA spokesperson Nicole Tiggemann described the numbers of people Kijakazi provided in her testimony and those she left out as “unverified.”

“We cannot confirm the accuracy of the information, and we have informed the committee,” Tiggemann said.

 

The numbers “were gathered quickly,” the spokesperson said. Social Security systems “were not designed to easily determine this information,” she said.

After the October hearing, KFF Health News and Cox Media Group sent Tiggemann several emails asking her to clarify whether the annual numbers Kijakazi gave to Congress included all Social Security programs or just a subset. She would not say.

For answers, the news organizations several weeks ago filed a FOIA request.

Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., a member of the subcommittee, said in an interview that he wondered if the agency “intentionally deflated the numbers to not make it look as bad as it is.”

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©2023 KFF Health News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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