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SSA trying to deduct 40-year-old debt from woman's SSD check

Though what Congress does matters, not every bill it passes affects everyone in Atlanta directly, except perhaps as taxpayers. Then there are laws that have serious implications for your personal rights or bottom line.

For one woman outside of Georgia, a provision in the 2008 federal Farm Bill has suddenly become very important to her, because it could put her and her husband out of their home, according to the Mail Tribune.

Since her husband is unemployed, the couple relies on the woman’s Social Security Disability payments, as well as food stamps. The woman receives SSD benefits due to a variety of conditions, including arthritis in her spine.

Recently, she received a letter from the Social Security Administration that mentioned $260. At first, she thought SSA was giving her a one-time bonus, which elated her. On their modest benefits, she and her husband are having trouble paying their mortgage.

But then, upon rereading the letter, she realized that SSA was charging her $260.40. Not for anything she had done, but because SSA had apparently sent an overly large payment to her mother in the 1970s.

Pursuing a 40-something year-old debt may seem like it would trip up some statute of limitations. And at one time, there was a 10-year statute of limitations on debt collections. But that 2008 Farm Bill we mentioned above contained a provision that eliminated that time limit.

This allowed SSA to deduct this $260.40 mistake out of the $776 monthly SSD payments it sends the original recipient’s daughter. SSA lets people in this situation file for a waiver, arguing that the deduction would make it difficult for them to pay for necessities like food, housing and medicine. But the outcome of this case remains to be seen.

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