Social Security Shortfalls May Have Cost Student Beneficiaries $59.5 Million

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An oversight committee has found that the Social Security Administration (SSA) may have underpaid an estimated $59.5 million in benefits due to almost 14,500 students, according to a recent audit of the administration’s program.

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In a sample of 100 students due Social Security payments, the Social Security Office of the Inspector General found that 87 students were entitled to benefits they stopped receiving when they turned 18, resulting in them being denied $357,872 in total. The average underpayment was $4,113.

The Social Security shortfalls have been blamed on administrative errors, outdated computer systems and mismanagement of information pertaining to the beneficiaries. Basically, the SSA was not informed or alerted to the fact these beneficiaries were entitled to Social Security payments.  

Although most people associate Social Security with an older population, young people benefit from SSA payments as well. Many unmarried children of parents who receive disability, retirement or survivor benefits qualify for payments if they are under 18. When they hit 18 years of age, they normally are no longer eligible unless they are students attending school at least 20 hours per week and are no older than 19 years and two months old.

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The report provided recommendations on how the SSA can better ensure that beneficiaries receive their rightful benefits, as well. The Social Security Administration said it has accepted the recommendations, however, according to an article in The Boston Globe, it doesn’t look like the SSA has made any strides to correct these underpayments.

“In July 2020, we provided SSA with information about these 87 students,” the audit report said. “As of December 2021, SSA had corrected one of these errors.”

Later in the same report, the agency claimed, “The system produced alerts in 4 of the 87 error cases in our sample; however, we found no evidence SSA employees took the necessary actions to pay these students.”

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A responding statement from the SSA simply stated “We are also looking at these cases,” adding, “and will make necessary corrections and issue underpayments as appropriate.”

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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