10 Social Security Rules That Are Insane

This excellent Social Security blog post by Charles Charles Hall shared a list of crazy rules from the regulation book for Social Secuirty employees:

Laurence Kotlikoff has a list of excerpts from Social Security’s Program Operations Manual Series (POMS)

1 “Even if we caused the (benefits) overpayment, you must show that you are without fault.”
2. Cash benefits for disabled workers end “the month before the month you die.”
3 “The lump-sum payment cannot be paid on the earnings record of a worker who dies in or after the month we receive notice of deportation or removal.”
4.”What does ‘actually paid’ mean? Actual payment occurs when you are actually paid.”4i9XLbRiE-2,4. “Third parties may assist a claimant when completing the (online) application, but the claimant must be present to select the ‘Submit Now’ button.”
5. “The illegality of an activity does not prevent it from being a trade or business. For example, professional gamblers, bookies, etc. may be engaged in a trade or business. If you’re in this category, you are considered self-employed and are required to report your income and pay self-employment taxes.”
6. “We may always make a new initial determination whenever a change occurs in the factual situation despite how much time elapses from the date of that change.”
7. “The fact that we determine that a claimant meets the requirements for entitlement does not preclude us from making another determination that the claimant no longer meets those requirements at some subsequent date.”
8. “In a disappearance case where the body is not recovered, you must clearly prove the death of the missing person. Submit all available evidence, including: statements of persons having knowledge of the situation; (or) letters or notes left by the missing person that have a bearing on the case.”

Social Security representatives are instructed: “Do not attempt to explain the rationale for any particular operational guidelines, nor go to any great lengths to justify them.”

We always hope that people shouldn’t need a lawyer to get the benefits they deserve, but this is a good illustration of why that’s not so true.