Investigative Group

Nearly 550 Jailed Children Received $2 Million In Social Security Payments

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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Nearly 550 jailed children in just four states received $1.7 million in improper Social Security payments, a government watchdog reported Monday.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) was unaware that 273 kids were confined, the agency’s Inspector General reported. Nearly 160 of those were jailed for at least six months without SSA official’s knowledge.

“Our findings are conservative because we did not receive data on all confined juveniles in all four states,” the report said.

Additionally, SSA doesn’t routinely obtain information regarding imprisoned kids, since it doesn’t have memorandums of understanding with correctional facilities.

“Without [memorandums], “SSA must rely on other sources, such as self-reporting by juveniles’ representative payees (for example, parent, legal guardian, relative, social agency, or institution),” the report said. “Unless such individuals notify SSA, it may continue making monthly SSI payments while the juvenile is confined, thus creating overpayments.”

“[S]ome states may refuse to provide information on confined juveniles in their custody because of privacy laws,” the report continued. “States could decide not to share their juvenile data for reasons other than privacy laws since sharing data with SSA is voluntary.”

But SSA also doesn’t record the reasons state facilities refused to provide data on juveniles.

The juveniles received supplemental security income payments, which are intended to pay for needs such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care. SSA is required to suspend those benefits under federal law while the child is jailed.

One child received more than $24,000 while confined for nearly three years. Another received more $18,000 while jailed for more than two years.

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