A Social Security antifraud program under the Trump administration imposed extensive fines on disabled and elderly people who received disability payments they weren’t entitled to, according to a report by the Washington Post.
The fines, which were imposed on more than 100 poor, disabled and elderly people, were as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The program was overseen by Gail Ennis, inspector general for the Social Security Administration. Kilolo Kijakazi, the acting Social Security commissioner, will launch a full investigation into Ennis’s oversight of the Civil Monetary Penalty Program, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Ennis declined an interview request, the Post reported, but wrote in a statement that her office is “unaware of any basis that supports the statement that unprecedented fines have been imposed.”
Citing interviews, documents and sworn testimony before an administrative law judge, the Post reported that the inspector general’s office didn’t consider “recipients’ financial state, their age, their intentions and level of remorse, among other factors…Staff attorneys were directed to charge those affected as much as twice the money they had received in error, on top of the fines.”
Two senior employees who repeatedly spoke out about the fees to Ennis and her staff were “abruptly placed on administrative leave,” the Post said. One was fired and the other demoted.
In the Post article, the White House said it was aware of the reporting but had no immediate comment, and a Senate Finance Committee spokesman told the Post it was “evaluating a number of steps.”