The federal government gave away $171 million in Social Security checks to people with more than one Social Security number, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
The inspector general of the Social Security Administration discovered the payments had been given to people who possess more than one Social Security number or given to people who are deceased.
The inspector general outlined exactly what happened.
“We identified more than 5,000 instances where, contrary to Agency policy, SSA appeared to simultaneously issue monthly [Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance] OASDI benefits and/or SSI payments to individuals under both of their cross-referred SSNs,” the inspector general said.
“We also identified over 13,000 instances where SSA continued paying beneficiaries after it recorded death information on their cross-referred SSNs.”
There are almost 5 million people in the U.S. believed to have one or more SSN. Someone who lose their initial SSN to a case of identity fraud can apply for a new number but they are not supposed to receive any Social Security payments for both SSNs.
The inspector general warned that if this problem with that many Americans possessing multiple numbers persists, it could amount to another loss of $21.2 million for the following year.
The audit tracked $115.4 million that was paid to 930 deceased people who had two SSNs. In one instance, the government stopped paying a individual deceased in 1997 but did not terminate a second number owned by that individual. That same number garnered somebody a government payment of $31,000 in 2011.