The Social Security Administration paid out benefits to 2,475 dead people for months and, in some cases years, even after the it received death reports for many of the recipients, according to an Inspector General report
Of the 2,475 dead people who kept receiving benefits, Social Security had death-certificate information for 1,546. Those payments cost the government $31 million, said Patrick P. O'Carroll Jr., Social Security inspector general, who issued the report Friday.
In one case, the person died in April 2000, Social Security recorded the death in February 2001, but did not stop payments until May 2012. The 135 payments amounted to almost $158,000.
For 879 of the 2,475 individuals reported dead, Social Security had only a date of death, not death-certificate information. The IG selected 30 individuals randomly to find out if they had indeed died, and found that 10 still were alive.
O'Carroll warned that such "erroneous death entry could lead to benefit termination, cause severe financial hardship, and could result in the public release of their [personal identifiable information]."
According to the IG, the "system interfaces" that are supposed to help prevent or detect this type of problem did not work in these cases.
He warns that if the problem is not corrected, it could cost an additional $15 million over the next year. Social Security agreed to the IG's recommendations.
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