Families of dead North Carolina state employees who received too much money from a disability program may be asked to pay back the benefits.
But the state might not get much back. It doesn’t plan to ask relatives to reopen estates, and it’s likely most of the 50 people who have died and were paid from the transitional disability income plan have already closed their estates.
The decision to look into benefits given to people who died while collecting them came up last summer, about the same time the state began collecting the extra $870,000 doled out from the plan to about 60 people still receiving benefits.
Charlene Williams, benefits processing chief, told co-workers that Steve Toole, the retirement system director, wanted them to recoup money from the estates of dead people who had been overpaid, as well as the living in a June 12 email obtained by The News and Observer of Raleigh in a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Steve wants to handle the deceased member’s accounts the same way as the active member’s accounts,” Williams wrote. “Could your team start the calculation process for the members who have deceased? How long will it take you to complete the calculations?”
The state overpaid people from 2006 to 2016 because it didn’t reduce the amount by other benefits such as worker’s compensation or Social Security. State officials are reducing monthly payments to get their money back.
Toole told the newspaper that the benefits program is simply following state law.
“If we owe you money, we’re going to pay you,” he said. “If we’ve paid you too much, we’ll try to get that money back to the fullest extent of the law.”