Overpayment Lawsuit

Barkan Meizlish , May 13, 2015

A group of plaintiffs are suing the Treasury Department, the Social Security Administration, and the District of Columbia, claiming the federal government is continuing to hold onto their tax refunds to pay for supposed overpayments of Social Security benefits decades ago. …

The Legal Aid Society and the law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge brought suit against the U.S. Treasury, the Social Security Administration and the District of Columbia government on behalf of three D.C. residents, Tina Heard, Pearline Snow and Carolyn Graham. They are seeking class-action status in the suit, and believe the case could affect up to 400,000 Social Security beneficiaries who had $75 million taken from their tax refunds. They claim the government confiscated the refund payments in violation of federal law and without the due process required under the Constitution. In most cases, the alleged debt to the Social Security Administration had been incurred by their parents or other relatives. …

Heard, Snow and Graham claim they originally learned of the debts they allegedly owed the government when some or all of the 2013 tax refunds they were expecting in early 2014 never arrived. They contend that they received no notice from the SSA before the Treasury Department seized their refunds. Only after they went to significant effort to determine why their refunds were withheld did they learn that the Treasury’s actions were based on the SSA’s findings that they had each been overpaid Social Security benefits decades before.

Despite multiple attempts to communicate with the agency, none of the plaintiffs has received a clear explanation of what exactly was owed or why, according to their attorneys.

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