Thursday, June 27, 2013

Inspector General: SSA Improperly Paid Benefits to 1,500 Deceased Americans

Amidst the existing problem on social security benefits’ projected insolvency, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) inspector general (IG) has said last Monday that the agency improperly paid millions in benefits to more than a thousand and a half Americans who are believed to be deceased.

According to the IG, the agency improperly paid $31 million in benefits to at least 1,546 Americans who are believed to be deceased. This is despite of the fact that those deceased already had their death certificates submitted in the government’s database, suggesting that it should have known that Americans had died and halted payments.

The IG has revealed that the government made payments as if those deceased were alive for an average of 20 extra months.

Consequently, the IG has suggested several recommendations that aim to prevent such mistake from happening again. The agency on the other hand has agreed to make changes.

For years, the agency has been focusing on the same problem. In fact, in 2009, the IG likewise discovered that the SSA was paying benefits to 6,733 people even if their death certificate records were already filed. Furthermore, making matters worse for the agency, 91 of those people identified as deceased in 2009 audit were still being paid benefits until May, 2012.

Meanwhile, the IG did not specify the names of those people who collected the decedents’ benefits. Also, it did not mention whether the government will seek to recoup the funds.

Although, those more than a thousand and a half improperly paid benefits only account to a tiny portion of the 55 million Americans collecting social security benefits, it could still lessen the burden of the federal government regarding its draining resources, said by a Los Angeles SSI lawyer.