Audit: Dead people have been collecting billions from Social Security as it goes bankrupt

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

Every year, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audits the Social Security Administration (SSA) and publishes its findings.

Fiscal audits dating to 1997 are available online. They reveal decades of waste and fraud within the system. Every year, audits target different samplings of states and groups, including the number of recipients both dead and alive, who are seniors, felons or the disabled, collecting benefits.

This month’s report found that the SSA issued $11.6 million in payments to a sampling of 149 beneficiaries and 4 representative payees who died in Puerto Rico from January 1992 through December 2016.

Social Security Administration

In the report, the inspector general’s office said it was “concerned” that “noncitizens” were illegally obtaining and using Social Security numbers, and that more than 6 million Social Security number holders age 112 or older “had no death information.”

Previous reports follow a similar pattern.

A May 2017 report of a national sampling uncovered $20 million in improper payments made to 678 beneficiaries who were verified as deceased as of April 2017. The deceased were still receiving payments for 9 to 206 months after their dates of death were recorded in the SSA system.

A 2015 OIG annual report uncovered $46.8 million paid to Social Security recipients who were deceased.

In the report, the inspector general’s office said it was “concerned” that “noncitizens” were illegally obtaining and using Social Security numbers, and that more than 6 million Social Security number holders age 112 or older “had no death information.”

That year, the agency recovered $3.4 billion in overpayments, which cost 7 cents for every dollar to recover funds, and closed the year with $18.5 billion in uncollected payments.

In a 2013 audit, the OIG determined that the SSA had issued $31 million in improper payments to 2,475 beneficiaries although it had received notification they were deceased.

In a 2009 audit, the OIG determined that the SSA had issued $40 million in improper payments to more than 6,000 beneficiaries although it had received notification they were deceased.

Since 2011, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has introduced legislation to reform Social Security. Groups like the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and others have also proposed ways to reform the program.

This year, Illinois Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis introduced The Social Security Fairness Act to repeal the government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions.

“This bill ensures that a teacher who spends his or her summers working a second job or a police officer who changes careers after years of service will not face a possible 40 percent reduction in their Social Security benefits,” Davis said.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., also introduced The Social Security 2100 Act this year, which would increase benefits by 2 percent through across-the-board increased payroll taxes.

Neither bills address the problems associated with the deceased receiving Social Security benefits.

And Social Security’s costs will exceed its income by 2020, according to an updated forecast published by the program’s trustees earlier this year.

The Social Security Trust Fund will be fully depleted by 2035, according the estimate. When that occurs, it has been projected that an across-the-board cut of 20 percent to all beneficiaries will need to be implemented.

Image courtesy of Social Security Administration

7 thoughts on “Audit: Dead people have been collecting billions from Social Security as it goes bankrupt

  1. “This month’s report found that the SSA issued $11.6 million in payments to a sampling of 149 beneficiaries and 4 representative payees who died in Puerto Rico from January 1992 through December 2016.”

    Who the hell in the USA gets $76,000/year on SSA

  2. How complicated would it be to have an ongoing verification program to ensure that these payments are going to the real people they are suppose to be going to. Same thing with the welfare program.

    The answer… the people running the system are probable involved on the fraud. There should be an outside agency doing this. We all know the government can not and wil not police itself.

  3. Interesting that SOCIAL SECURITY (which people paid into for years) is called a FEDERAL BENEFIT by the VA. Seems that if a FEDERAL BENEFIT, so-called SS will never run out of money. The VA uses FEDERAL BENEFIT definition to collect office visits from Veterans even if the Vet pays for Medicare Part A & B, I know, I’m one. The bureaucrats at the WRJ Med Center are devious against the Vet.. Have a lot of data personal & from other facilities.

    Bureaucrats can change any title to suit themselves.

  4. Sad state of affairs. Did it ever occur to anyone in the law enforcement branch of government that anyone cashing an SS check issued to a dead person just might be doing something illegal and subject to suffering the consequences? When my wife’s aunt passed, the first thing our attorney did was return her SS check with a notification of her death. Given the shaky financial state of the SS program, is anybody monitoring the payout system? While a regular audit is noble, the fact that there is no follow up to identify the check cashers boarders on criminal.

  5. Absolutely nothing new here. Fraud is rampant among many if not all government payment programs. Social Security, Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, Medicare, Obamacare subsidies, Medicaid, it goes on and on. Just goes to show how efficient government works ….. not.

  6. The democrats never seem to be concerned about mismanagement. Their practice is to raise taxes instead of fixing broken systems.

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