As a follow up to a recent post, the Social Security Administration recently announced its suspending its efforts to collect old debts that stretch beyond 10 years. Acting commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin had this to say in an official statement:
“I have directed an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program to recover debts owed to the agency that are 10 years old and older 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.”
Since the program gained traction in the news recently, both the age of the debts Social Security was trying to collect and the fact that it was putting the burden on people who were children when the debts were supposedly incurred by their parents and guardians created a bit of a controversy. Especially that Social Security officials themselves admitted that they had no records of the alleged debts.
In an email, Social Security spokesman Mark Hinkle said, "We want to assure the public that we do not seek restitution through tax refund offset in cases when the debt in question was established prior to the debtor turning 18 years of age." He added, "Also, we do not use tax refund offset to collect the debt of a person's relative. We only use it to collect the overpaid benefits the person received for himself or herself."