Since January, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sent disability insurance (SSDI) checks worth $1.29 billion to an estimated 36,000 people who were still on the job and thus ineligible for benefits, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Friday. (See GAO -13-635.pdf)
SSDI is meant to provide monthly cash assistance to workers whose mental or physical illness prohibits them from being gainfully employed long-term. “Some work activity indicates beneficiaries are not disabled and therefore not entitled to [SS]DI benefits,” the report stated.
Beneficiaries are not entitled to SSDI benefits if they earn over $1,000 per month during the program’s five-month waiting period, which is meant “to permit most temporary disabilities to be corrected,” or if they continue working “beyond the program’s trial work period” of nine months.
The overpayments, most of which occurred during the waiting period, were sent to less than one percent of SSDI’s 8.3 million beneficiaries.