Hundreds of federal employees may have improperly reaped millions in Social Security disability benefits, according to a government watchdog that caught workers at several major agencies pocketing fraudulent payments.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report that showed at least 1,500 federal employees may have wrongly received benefits. The group’s investigation, which focused on two Social Security programs for people who have limited incomes due to disabilities, found several specific cases in which beneficiaries were earning well above the income cap while still receiving benefits. In one case, a Transportation Security Administration screener was overpaid $108,000, according to the report.
“Our case studies … confirmed some examples in which individuals received SSA disability payments that they were not entitled to receive,” the GAO said in a letter to Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Some of the payments were attributed to fraud, others to “administrative error,” according to the report. The GAO found that the Social Security Administration does not use its own automated system to flag workers who may be earning too much income to qualify for benefits.
“SSA’s internal controls did not prevent improper and fraudulent payments,” the GAO said.