An audit of the Social Security Administration revealed that $1 billion in benefits was paid to thousands of individuals who did not have a Social Security number (SSN), according to a report from the Washington Free Beacon.
The agency’s inspector general released the audit on Friday, which shows that there were serious errors in the government’s documentation for more than 22,000 representative payees; these are individuals who receive retirement or disability payments on behalf of another person who is incapable of managing the benefits themselves.
Not only did the agency pay $1 billion to representative payees who “did not have an SSN, and SSA had not followed its policy to retain the paper application,” but the inspector general also found that since 2004, $853.1 million in benefits have gone to individuals who had already been terminated as representative payees by the agency.
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The agency’s failure to keep paper applications and update its system when payees were terminated caused the errors, allowing government benefits to also be paid to illegal aliens. According to the report, “Illegal aliens without SSNs are allowed to receive benefits from the government when acting as representatives for their minor children.”
In its defense, SSA officials said the issuance of benefits to noncitizens and persons without an SSN is important to beneficiaries who need help. “We have approximately 5.7 million representative payees managing annual benefits for approximately 8 million beneficiaries. When appointing representative payees, we adhere to guidance in the Social Security Act (the Act),” said the agency, noting that the Act does not state that the applicant must have an SSN to serve as a payee, and the “absence of an SSN is not a criterion preventing an individual from serving as payee.”
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