March 29, 2024

Gallego Demands Answers for Crushing Social Security Fines Impacting Arizona Seniors

Gallego notes some penalties were in excess of $100,000 despite no notifications from SSA that the seniors were being fined

PHOENIXRep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Commissioner Martin O’Malley today pushing the administration for answers on why some Americans may have received large fines from SSA without proper notification.

“When somebody wrongly receives social security overpayments, it is the job of SSA to inform that person of the issue and work with them to come to a resolution. However, according to an investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General, investigators were unable to find evidence of SSA ever sending written notice to some Social Security recipients that received penalties,” Gallego writes.

According to the DOJ investigation, some penalties to seniors were above $100,000, a large sum for seniors who rely on Social Security benefits. The Inspector General also found that when notification letters were sent, they failed to properly serve recipients with notice of the fines, leading to default judgments.

The failure to notify Social Security recipients of fines raises serious concerns about the legality of administering civil penalties without due process. To fully understand the scope of the SSA’s mistakes, Rep. Gallego requested the answers to the following questions:

  • How many Arizona Social Security beneficiaries were subjected to default judgments in the period covered by the Inspector General’s investigation?
  • What steps is the agency taking to ensure future lawful compliance with Section 1129?
  • What, if any, proposals suggested by the Inspector General is the agency considering adoption of?
  • Are there resources that Congress can provide that will ensure the agency is able to adequately inform recipients of any potential fines?
  • When a senior faces a default judgment following SSA’s failure to notify them of a potential issue, what resources does the agency offer to help these beneficiaries?

Today’s letter continues Rep. Gallego’s efforts to support Arizona’s seniors. In December, Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) and Rep. Garret Graves (LA-06) introduced bipartisan legislation to limit the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) overpayment lookback period to ten years, protecting Arizona’s 1.4 million Social Security recipients from the undue burden of having to pay back lifesaving funds that may arise from errors on the part of SSA. He also previously sent a letter to the SSA calling for more clarity on SSA’s overpayment claw-back waiver process and how it could affect Arizona’s 1.4 million Social Security recipients.

WATCH: ‘I’m scared to death:’ Arizona senior fears homelessness because of Social Security clawbacks

Click here to read the full letter.