Bringing the principles of Trump University to the Social Security administration:
Four years after her longtime partner died of kidney cancer, federal agents knocked on Gail Deckman’s door outside Chicago and told her she was in trouble: She had kept thousands of dollars in Social Security disability benefits that should have stopped when he died.
Deckman told the agents she thought the $1,400 check deposited each month into an account to which she had access was a payment for land her partner had sold in Michigan. She spent the money on rent and clothes and gifts for her grandchildren, she said.
The inspector general’s office, which investigates disability fraud and tries to recoup money for the government, ultimately charged her $119,392 — nearly three times what she received in error.
Deckman didn’t have the money. So the Social Security Administration garnished the entire$704 check she was going toreceive every month when she retired from her minimum-wage job flipping burgers at the convenience store in her local Rebel gas station. She can apply for retirement in 2032 — when she’s 83.
“I’m going to be dead by then,” Deckman said. “They’re taking away my Social Security. They’re charging me so much. Do they think I can afford a lawyer to fight this?” At 73, she continues to work, because she says shehas to.
The inflated fees were set in motion during the Trump administration, when attorneys in charge of a little-known anti-fraud program run by the inspector general’s office levied unprecedented fines against Deckman and more than 100 other beneficiaries without due process, according to interviews, documents and sworn testimony before an administrative law judge. In doing so, they disregarded regulations and deviated from how the program had recovered money since its inception in 1995, failing to take into account someone’s financial state, their age, their intentions and level of remorse, among other factors.
Well, if working people could retire before they turn 83 who knows how many Cadillacs, Obamaphones, and T-Bone steaks they’ll waste taxpayer money on.