InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


Social Security cuts woman’s benefits due to overpayment to her deceased brother

ssa woodlawn.png
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-19 10:51:31-04

BALTIMORE — A Maryland senior is fighting an overpayment notice from the Social Security Administration. The additional money was supposedly paid out to her brother, but now the agency is withholding her monthly retirement benefits.

“They caught their mistake and tried to collect the money, but he had passed," said Everlon Moulton, whose brother died in 2006. Moulton said shortly before then, she had become his financial representative.

“He just couldn't manage his money. And my mother being his payee, when she passed, there was no one else there to do it but me,” Moulton said.

Now all these years later, it’s impacting her pay.

According to a letter sent to Moulton last November, Congress passed a law permitting the Social Security Administration to collect Supplemental Security Income (SSI) overpayments from the individual's payee. The SSA identified payments to Moulton's brother, while he was still alive, that exceeded the amount he should've received. Moulton said she never used money designated for her brother and was informed that $233 will be deducted from her monthly retirement benefits until the nearly $6,900 overpayment to her brother is settled.

“Not my fault. I don't work for Social Security,” Moulton exclaimed. “This is my money I earned. I worked for 30 some years in Baltimore City Schools, and this is my money.”

The agency's most recent financial report shows $23 billion in overpayments that have yet to be recovered.

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii asked the agency how many people and Marylanders are impacted. A spokesperson wouldn't say.

In a Congressional hearing last October, the acting commissioner said they send overpayment notices to about 1 million people a year.

That same month, the agency announced it would review their overpayment policies and procedures. And added that only about 0.5 percent of Social Security payments are overpayments, however, SSI overpayments account for 8 percent due to the complexity in calculating income and assets.

“This is sad, because it's happening to other people, and they need to let you know, and someone needs, who holds them responsible? Somebody needs to get on the government,” Moulton said.

After receiving the notification, Moulton filled out a form requesting the agency reconsider its decision. She’s called many times, and recently attended a hearing where she was told collection of this overpayment would be paused until a decision is reached in 30 to 60 days.

“I would tell them that when they discover they've made a mistake, eat it. That's what I would tell them, eat it. Because it's not fair. I mean, this is not your money you're playing with, it's our money,” said Moulton.

At Moulton’s recent hearing, she was told the delay in communicating the overpayment was due to an outdated mailing address for her brother.

A spokesperson with the Social Security Administration said they can’t discuss Moulton’s case due to privacy laws.

Moulton recommends any other Social Security recipients double check their payments and check for any discrepancies. If you're notified of an overpayment, you can appeal it if you believe it's due to an error or if you're unable to pay it back.

The SSA spokesperson added that they handle overpayments on a case-by-case basis and have flexible repayment options including repayments as low as $10 per month.

There are also several bills in Congress addressing these overpayments including one that would prevent the agency from collecting overpayments that are over 10 years old.

Click here for additional information on SSA overpayments and how to submit a waiver request.