US

Feds Send $125M In Illegal Social Security Benefits To Chinese Recipients

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Chinese pensioners living in the U.S. have received $125 million in Social Security benefits that don’t belong to them. They will get another $25 million in the next year if the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t fix the problem, according to the agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).

The SSA sent the $125 million in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks to 5,900 individuals in the U.S. who failed to disclose their pension benefits from China, a new IG report found. The IG sampled 200 of the 5,900 such people to find $850,000 in overpayments, then extrapolated the data to reach that $125 million estimate.

The SSI program provides income to elderly, blind or disabled individuals, but requires recipients to apply for all other benefits first, including pensions. Other pension-paying countries usually don’t communicate with the IRS, so foreign recipients living in the U.S. are responsible for reporting such income, the IG said.

“However, there is no incentive for SSI recipients to report the pension income since it could reduce their monthly SSI payment or make them ineligible for SSI,” the report said.

Forty of the 200 sampled Chinese recipients admitted to getting a pension from China, the IG said. The pensioners received $427 monthly on average, with some getting as much as $1,141 per month. (RELATED: Feds Took 8 Years To Develop USELESS $300 Million Software)

The IG in 2012 reported SSA overpaid about 2,000 Russian pensioners $45 million in SSI payments.

The IG recommended SSA follow up on the known overpayment cases for “appropriate corrective action,” but didn’t say SSA should recover the money from recipients. SSA said in an attachment to the report it would take “necessary action” on those cases, but didn’t say whether it would further investigate cases outside the sample or try to recover the money from overpaid recipients.

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