An audit by the Office of the Inspector General has found there are 6.5 million U.S. Social Security Numbers (SSN) for persons 112 years or older on the active Social Security roster. Given that there are estimated to be only 35 people age 112 years or older on the planet, the Social Security Administration is paying fraudulent claims for dead people each month and enabling tens of “thousands of instances of potential identity theft.” The Inspector General “confirmed that illegal aliens were using deceased number holders’ names and SSNs to work, but U.S. Attorneys in Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina declined prosecution.”
There are only 50 women and 2 men worldwide who achieved supercentenarian status by living past 110 years old, yet the Social Security Administration (SSA) lists 6 million American supercentenarians on its Numident (Numerical Identification Number), which can be used by others for identification or to receive benefits.
“In September 2013, a New York resident, believed to be the world’s oldest living man, died at age 112,” the Office of Inspector General (OIG) stated in its March 2015 report. According to the Gerontology Research Group, as of October 2013, only 35 known living individuals worldwide had reached age 112.
The OIG stated, “Individuals can commit various types of fraud against the government by reporting earnings under deceased individuals’ SSNs.” They found that 6.4 million of the SSNs were used to collect benefit claims filed before March 1972, including 48,746 SSNs issued to process death claims.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) had input dates of death on approximately 1.4 million beneficiaries’ payment records for which it had not recorded the death information on the Numident. SSA did terminate payments and input dates of death on 410,074 beneficiaries’ payment records, but had not recorded the death information on the Numident, according to the report.
The OIG said, “We matched the 6.5 million SSNs against SSA’s [Earnings Suspense File] ESF and E-Verify systems and identified thousands of instances of potential identity theft or other fraud.” Nearly 70,000 of those SSNs were used to report $3.1 billion in wages between 2006 and 2011.
As of September 2014, the Social Security Administration was issuing benefit checks to 266 people who were using a SSN that said they were born before June 16, 1901 (113 years old). “However, in only 13 cases was it likely the beneficiary was actually age 112 or older,” the OIG said. “In the remaining 253 cases, discrepancies in SSA records indicated the beneficiary receiving payments was not born before June 16, 1901.”
A supposedly 126-year-old individual reported wages of up to $17,100 a year between 2008 and 2012, despite having died in 1965 and his estate sending SSA a death certificate. The OIG flagged five other cases where “it appeared an individual was working under a deceased relative’s SSN.”
The OIG initiated the audit after a man was caught using SSN for people born in 1869 and 1893 to open bank accounts. The SSA assumed that the individuals who originally held the numbers were still alive, because the agency has no recorded date of death.
The SSA has a long record of issuing payments to dead people. According to a June 21, 2012 Inspector General audit of the SSA, 2,475 beneficiaries had a recorded date of death in Social Security’s own database, yet “at least”, 1,546 of these individuals were dead and still received $31 million in benefits.
Last year, the IG determined that the Agency gave $3 million in back payments to 14 dead Californians whose SSNs had been stolen and used by identity thieves.
The OIG stated, “Every day, we receive reports of Social Security-related fraud, waste, and abuse from outside sources like the public, and inside sources like SSA employees. Our investigators take on many of these cases, which can lead to administrative and financial penalties or even criminal convictions.”
The OIG has set up an OIG Fraud Hotline of dedicated special agents to prevent Social Security survivor and identity fraud. The OIG says it depends on the willingness of individual citizens to bring allegations to its attention.