SSA Paid Dead People More Than $3M in Benefits

By Ali Meyer | August 21, 2014 | 4:23 PM EDT

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( --- The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued more than $3 million in benefit payments to individuals whose personal identification information (PII) matched that of those who died in California during the 1980s, according to an Office of the Inspector General’s (OI) audit report of the SSA.

“OI determined that 14 beneficiaries were deceased. OI and SSA determined that SSA issued approximately $3 million in improper payments in these cases,” explains the audit, entitled Payments to Individuals with Deaths Reported in California from 1980 to 1987.

The audit’s objective was to “determine the appropriateness of continued benefit payments to individuals who, according to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) vital statistics data files, died in California between January 1980 and December 1987.”

Back in August 2010, the Inspector General discovered that approximately 60 fraudulent retirement claims were filed using SSA’s online application process and that some used deceased individuals’ personally identifiable information.

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At the time of the most recent audit in August 2014, the IG found that “SSA issued benefit payments to 22 individuals whose PII matched that of individuals who died in California during the 1980s.” There were three of the 22 beneficiaries that were still alive, but in these instances, “California issued death certificates upon the deaths of identify thieves who used these SSNs to work in the 1970s and 1980s.”

These three cases resulted in $186,000 in over-payments.

Investigations are still ongoing in some of the remaining cases, but it is estimated that if the number-holders are confirmed deceased, SSA has doled out another $598,350 in improper payments.