The federal government provided financial assistance to many Americans as the country struggled with covid-19.
Some recipients claim that the covid payments have caused financial hardship by jeopardizing Social Security benefits.
The government has demanded they repay much larger amounts — thousands of dollars in benefits for the poor and disabled distributed by the Social Security Administration.
“The government gave this money to them with one hand. They should not be trying to take it back with the other,” said Jen Burdick, an attorney at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia who has helped many people contest repayment demands.
Jo Vaughn is a 63-year old disabled woman from New Mexico who received $3,200 of federal covid relief. She received a letter dated Aug. 25 2023 from Social Security Administration, stating that she owed government $14 026.
“They are sending me to a very early grave,” Vaughn said.
The Social Security Administration has caused a lot of trauma by claiming that it overpaid many beneficiaries, including those who were highly vulnerable. It then demands they pay back the money.
These efforts show the limits and dysfunction of the system.