Reducing Improper Payments

"My Administration is committed to reducing payment errors and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in Federal programs...agencies should use every tool available to identify and subsequently reclaim the funds associated with improper payments."
-Barack Obama, President

Program Integrity, Payment Accuracy, Service Delivery, Program Access, Accountability

We take seriously our responsibility to reduce instances of improper payments. In fact, curbing improper payments is one objective in our current strategic goal to preserve the public's trust in our programs.

We consider payments improper if they result from:

  • Our mistake in computing the payment;
  • Our failure to obtain or act on available information affecting the payment;
  • A beneficiary's failure to report an event; or
  • A beneficiary's incorrect report.

Not all of our overpayments are improper payments, as unavoidable overpayments are not considered improper payments if statutes (laws), regulations, or court orders require us to make the payment. For example, the Social Security Act allows individuals, in prescribed circumstances, to request a continuation of their benefits while they appeal an adverse action. If the appeal is not decided in their favor, the resulting overpayment is not considered an improper payment because it was statutorily required at the point it was made.

We have a number of strategies in place to protect the public's tax dollars and ensure a more efficient and effective government:

  • Dedicated funding: In FY 2013, we committed $743 million towards our program integrity efforts, and we completed over 428,500 full medical continuing disability reviews and over 2.634 million SSI redeterminations.
  • Use of a broad array of program integrity initiatives: We conduct both medical and work continuing disability reviews to determine if a beneficiary remains eligible, as well as Supplemental Security Income redeterminations to re-evaluate any nonmedical factors that would affect eligibility or the payment amount.