Social Security Suspends Efforts to Collect Old Debts

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The Social Security Administration has suspended a program that seized people's tax returns to recover overpayments made more than a decade ago.

Acting SSA Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin said she was suspending the program "pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law to refer debt to the Treasury Department."

"If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary believes they have been incorrectly assessed with an overpayment under this program, I encourage them to request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment," Colvin added.

The temporary reprieve comes after recipients and members of Congress complained many were being forced to repay the debts of their parents or guardians.

"I am grateful that the Social Security Administration has chosen not to penalize innocent Americans while the agency determines a fair path forward on how to handle past errors," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said.

The administration estimates it has 400,000 people with old debts totaling more than $700 million. They have collected $55 million, but will suspend the program until a review is complete.

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