Fed pays $37 million in benefits to dead Americans

A new audit report shows a tremendous waste of American tax dollars, as over $37 million worth of benefit payments were made to dead people.

The inspector general for the Social Security Administration (SSA) reported payments to roughly 750 dead people, which has resulted in millions of taxpayer dollars wasted. In one instance, an individual continued to receive benefits 26 years after his death.

“Based on our sample results, we estimate SSA issued about $37.7 million to 746 individuals after they died,” the inspector general said.

The audit found that the SSA had issued payments to 3,925 beneficiaries who had dates of death in the VA’s records.

According to the inspector general (IG): “Our audit results indicated that at least 11 percent of these beneficiaries were alive, and death information in VA’s records was erroneous. However, our audit results also indicated that at least 19 percent of these beneficiaries were deceased, and death information in VA’s records was accurate.”

The IG found that for the most part, the problem stemmed from the Department of Veterans Affairs because it failed to disclose death information to the agency.

According to the report, the retirement and disability payments that were erroneously paid could continue to be doled out if action is not taken to correct the government’s death record system.

“[The SSA] will issue approximately $7.3 million more over the next 12 months if these discrepancies are not corrected,” the inspector general said.

The inspector general could not determine the status of 70 out of the 100 beneficiaries in their sample and identified hundreds of more individuals who may have died.

“We did not determine the status of 70 beneficiaries. In these instances, information available in public records or other available documentation did not sufficiently indicate whether the individuals were alive or deceased,” the report says. “In addition to the 100 randomly selected beneficiaries, we referred information on 281 potentially deceased beneficiaries to our Office of Investigations.”

Specific cases pulled from the report and compiled by The Washington Free Beacon include:

  • $16,000 for a Marine Corps veteran who died in 1998
  • $102,000 for an Army veteran who died in 2005
  • $155,000 for a North Dakota Army veteran who died in 2011
  • $160,000 for a veteran who died in Thailand in 2008

“As good stewards of taxpayer funds, and to preserve the public’s trust in our programs, we remain focused on paying the right benefit, to the right person, at the right time,” the agency said in response to the audit. “Over the years, we have made, and will continue to make, enhancements to ensure our death data is complete and accurate.”

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