Senators Boxer, Mikulski Hail Decision by Social Security Administration to Immediately Halt Seizure of Taxpayer Refunds to Pay for Decades-Old Mistakes

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) lauded today’s announcement by Social Security Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin that she has ordered “an immediate halt” to the policy of seizing taxpayers’ refunds to make up for decades-old errors that led to the overpayment of benefits, pending a thorough review by the agency.

 “I am grateful that the Social Security Administration has chosen not to penalize innocent Americans while the agency determines a fair path forward on how to handle past errors,” Senator Boxer said. 

“On the eve of Tax Day, families preparing their budgets across Maryland and our nation are counting on refunds they are owed. Garnishing these refunds to collect overpayments incurred through no fault of their own and based on decades-old errors is a policy that must not continue,” Senator Mikulski said. “I’m pleased the Social Security Administration has taken a good first step by heeding my call with Senator Boxer to freeze this unfair and unjust policy. I will continue to fight so that Maryland families have a government on their side on Tax Day and every day.” 

The Senators wrote to Acting Commissioner Colvin on Friday, urging her to use the discretion granted to the agency under federal law to waive recovery of overpayments more than ten years old in cases where the beneficiary is not at fault. In the letter, the Senators highlighted a Washington Post story that detailed the case of Mary Grice of Takoma Park, Maryland, whose tax refund was seized by the U.S. government to repay an overpayment of benefits made to an unknown member of her family in 1977.

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