The Social Security Administration, which announced in April that it would stop trying to collect debts from the children of people who were allegedly overpaid benefits decades ago, has continued to demand such payments and now defends that practice in court documents.
After The Washington Post reported in April that the Treasury Department had confiscated $75 million in tax refunds due to about 400,000 Americans whose ancestors owed money to Social Security, the agency’s acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said efforts to collect on those old debts would cease immediately.
But although some people whose refunds were seized were reimbursed in recent months, some of those same taxpayers have since received new demands from Social Security, asserting that the debts remain and seeking repayment.
In March, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. It turned out that after Grice’s father died in 1960, when she was 4, her mother got survivor benefits to help feed and clothe her five children. Social Security says it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. With Grice’s mother long since dead, the government came after Mary to pay the debt.