SIX FEET UNDER AND STILL GETTING SOCIAL SECURITY Despite warnings from watchdog agencies, the federal government continues to dole out millions in Social Security checks to dead people (and live criminals).
Government Gives Taxpayer Money to Dead People
Here is a news update from Taxpayers for Common Sense. TCS is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare.
The Social Security Administration Inspector General completed an investigation in October as a follow-up to an audit two years ago that found that more than $31 million in Social Security had been paid to dead people. The new investigation reviewed the 553 cases that had been found to have discrepancies in their death records in the previous audit; the subsequent review found additional payments of $12 million in benefits to dead people. The recent investigation was conducted as a response to the high percentage of unresolved cases from the first audit and will hopefully add pressure on the agency to be much more aggressive in resolving and prosecuting these cases.
One person who died in 1981 continued to receive a check from Uncle Sam, and in 2002 auditors revealed that more than $185,855 in benefits had been paid to this individual. There were also numerous other cases where ten of thousands of dollars were sent to dead people and the checks cashed by 'unknown' individuals.
The latest audit confirmed that of the 553 previously unresolved cases, 433 individuals were still alive and 49 are dead. Seventy-one cases remained unresolved, although if two reviews don't turn up evidence of living recipients, it is like that these individuals have passed as well. Other processing mistakes also contributed to significant errors. For example, 104 beneficiaries indicated the date of death in the agency records was actually the date of death of a spouse or another family member.
In the 49 cases where recipients were confirmed dead, the agency made erroneous payments to eight recipients of totaling $605,195. Auditors used this data to predict that $12 million in payments to 160 dead people would have been paid if they extrapolated their research to the whole population. This is a relatively conservative estimate because it does not account for payments after death for any of seventy-one unresolved cases where there is no determination of status.
The eight erroneous payments ranged from $1,883 to more than $185,000 and are usually the result of fraudulent activities. In one specific case, payments of $17,000 were directly deposited into the recipient account and in another check payments were made, but all seemed to have been cashed.
In response to these concerns, Social Security Administration has stated that it processes more than 2 million death reports annually with an accuracy rate of 99.9 percent.
The agency collects death reports from local, state and federal agencies. Those reports are entered into the agency's electronic files. For more than a decade, the agency has been matching death reports against payment records to identify potential improper payments.
The Social Security Administration needs to continue to prioritize efforts to fix discrepancies in the government's records, so as to make sure that the government isn't being defrauded. Many Americans rely on these benefits and it is very important that we all believe that the system is functioning to the best of its ability. The agency is confronted with a gargantuan task of ensuring that accurate payments are going to individuals that are still breathing. It is also important that we realize that no system is totally perfect and some errors and bound to occur.
However, in the instances of fraudulent claims after death, the Social Security Administration should be vigorously prosecuting the crooks whose illegal activities undermine the integrity of this essential program.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202)-546-8500 ext. 110
or by email at email@example.com
TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
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