Multiple Audit Reports Demonstrate SSA’s Need to Improve Systems & Processes Around Improper Payments

Oct 18, 2023


Tonya Eickman, Program Audit Division Director, Office of Audit, Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG), testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security hearing on protecting beneficiaries from the harm of improper payments.

Since fiscal year 2002, the OIG has identified improper payments as a major management challenge. “Improper payments can have a devasting effect on beneficiaries, particularly when the improper payment is the result of an agency error,” said Eickman. “Many overpayments can accumulate over several years until SSA realizes payments to the beneficiary have been inaccurate. In some instances, individuals are sent bills stating they owe thousands of dollars they cannot afford.”

In the last five years, the OIG issued 101 reports with 299 recommendations related to improper payments. These reports identified over $7 billion in questioned costs. Of these, 76 recommendations aimed at addressing $1.8 billion in questioned costs remain unimplemented.

Improper payments are a major challenge for SSA. Specifically, SSA needs to identify and prevent improper payments through automation and data analytics, expand efforts to collect data from reliable third-party sources, and address the root causes of improper payments.

“The OIG is committed to identifying ways for SSA to prevent improper payments to the millions of beneficiaries who rely on the Agency to send them their correct monthly benefit amount,” stated Inspector General Gail S. Ennis.

Written statements for the record and the full hearing can be viewed on the United States House Committee on Ways and Means website:

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