The cost of improper payments by the federal government soared to an estimated $124.7 billion last year, The Washington Post reported
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said there was an 18 percent increase in incorrect disbursements compared to 2013 from such government programs as Medicare, Medicaid and tax credits for the working poor.
It was the first jump in four years, while the largest amount of losses by the Obama administration was an estimated $125.6 billion in 2010, according to the newspaper.
Medicare had the dubious distinction of having the highest number of improper payments last year, with the program accounting for almost $60 billion. The losses from the Earned Income Tax Credit was second highest with $17.7 billion, while Medicaid was third with $17.5 billion.
"With outlays for major programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, expected to increase over the next few years, it is critical that actions are taken to reduce improper payments," said the report
, released this week.
But the GAO report also noted that federal agencies "continue to face challenges, such as statutory limitations and compliance issues" in preventing such staggering losses.
Under the Obama administration, government agencies have taken new measures to prevent the incorrect payments while also trying to recoup some of the money, according to the Post, which said that the cash claw-back efforts have created a furor.
Last year it was revealed that the Social Security Administration and Treasury Department confiscated the refunds of hundreds of thousands of taxpayers over the past three years because of debt often incurred by their parents.
The Federal Trade Commission advises on its website that "family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets."
However, Social Security officials
say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children's money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.
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