The Social Security Administration (SSA) paid more than $1.7 million in benefits to dozens of dead federal government employees, according to an audit report released by the Office of Inspector General.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that the SSA failed to cross-check its death records with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency charged with management of federal government employees. Thirty-five deceased employees were paid an average of $49,156 in Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) over the course of an average of 84 months.
In one of the 35 cases, an Ohio man who died in November, 2011 continued to receive OASDI benefits until October, 2015. The SSA paid $37,126 to the deceased worker before the SSA terminated the payments.
The report also revealed the SSA paid six additional workers after their deaths, a problem that could have been prevented had the SSA used the death records from OPM. In these six cases, the SSA relied on other sources for the death information instead of OPM. While the SSA terminated benefits once it learned of the workers’ deaths, it was delayed because of the sources it used.
The report also identified glaring issues among the 2.7 million death records the OPM provided to the inspector general upon request. The inspector general reported that 641,996 of the 2.7 million death records provided by OPM had issues such as invalid or missing data fields.
This is not the first time that the SSA has had trouble with its record-keeping. The Washington Examiner reported in 2015 vast swaths of incomplete record keeping and inaccurate data kept by SSA, which may have cost the government billions of dollars.
The report asserted that the payments would have continued to pay the deceased beneficiaries $258,000 over the course of the next year if their deaths had not been identified by the audit. The Inspector General recommended that the SSA enter into an agreement with OPM to periodically communicate with one another to obtain up-to-date death records on a monthly basis.
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