April 23, 2014
You may have read recent news articles related to the Social Security Administration recovering debts from tax refunds under the Treasury Offset Program. In 2008, there was a change in the law that eliminated the statute of limitations related to the Treasury Offset Program. This change allows Federal agencies to refer debts that are more than 10 years old to the Treasury Offset Program for collection. Our agency takes a number of steps to notify individuals of potential adverse actions before attempting to recover delinquent debts.
To be clear, Social Security does not refer the following to the Treasury Offset Program:
- Children with overpayments established prior to the age of 18,
- Debt that previously belonged to a parent or other relative, or
- Deceased debtors.
I just wanted to let you know that pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the law to collect these overpayments, our Acting Commissioner, Carolyn W. Colvin, has halted further referrals of debts that are 10 years old and older to the Treasury Offset Program.
If any Social Security or Supplemental Security Income beneficiary believes his or her tax refund has been withheld incorrectly to recover an overpayment under this program, we encourage the individual to request an explanation or seek options to resolve the overpayment. Inquiries may be directed to our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.
You can find Acting Commissioner Colvin’s statement concerning this issue here.