Report: Social Security overpaid nearly half on disability

The Social Security Administration’s main campus is seen in Woodlawn, Md. in this January 2013 file photo. Social Security overpaid disability beneficiaries by nearly $17 billion over the past decade, a government watchdog said Friday, raising alarms about the massive program just as it approaches the brink of insolvency.

WASHINGTON — A government watchdog says Social Security overpaid nearly half the people receiving disability benefits over the past decade.

In all, a 10-year study by the agency’s inspector general found that Social Security overpaid beneficiaries by nearly $17 billion.

Many payments went to people who earned too much money to qualify for benefits, or to people who weren’t disabled anymore. Some payments went to people who had died or to prison inmates.

The study released Friday says Social Security recouped about $8.1 billion, but it often took years to get the money back.

A spokesman for the Social Security Administration says the agency has a high accuracy rate for its payments and a comprehensive debt collection program for overpayments.