OIG Report: Social Security Administration Paid $11.6 Million to Dead Puerto Ricans

Social Security Payments
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An Inspector General report for the Social Security Administration flew under the radar when it was issued in August, and the administration refused to answer Breitbart News’s inquiry about the findings that reveal $11.6 million in payments were paid to dead people in Puerto Rico.

The findings of the report stated: 

SSA issued approximately $11.6 million in payments after death to 149 beneficiaries and 4 representative payees who died in Puerto Rico from January 1992 through December 2016. Identifying and correcting these discrepancies will prevent approximately

$1.4 million in additional improper payments after death over the next 12 months. We also identified 33,258 non-beneficiaries who were deceased according to Puerto Rico Department of Health vital records but whose death information was not in SSA’s Numident [“Numerical Identification System,” is the Social Security Administration’s computer database file of an abstract of the information contained in an application for a United States Social Security number].

We could not determine why the deaths were not in SSA’s Numident or whether Puerto Rico reported the deaths to SSA. Implementing EDR [Electronic Death Registration] should help ensure Puerto Rico deaths are properly and timely reported to SSA.

The Numident contained death information for two of the four representative payees; however, SSA had not replaced the representative payees. In several prior audits, we found SSA did not always replace representative payees after it posted death information to their Numident records.

The Inspector General recommended that the Social Security Administration “take action” to identify the 149 deceased beneficiaries and representative payees and to add more than 33,000 deceased non-beneficiaries to its database.

“SSA agreed with our recommendations,” the report stated.

Breitbart News asked the administration’s press office via email three questions:

1. Have any of these recommendations been put in place at SS?

  1. Take action on the 149 deceased beneficiaries we identified.
  2. Take action on the four deceased representative payees we identified.
  3. Take action on the 33,258 deceased non-beneficiaries we identified to add their deaths to the Numident, as appropriate.

2. Have any funds been recovered?

3. Has an EDR for Puerto Rico been put in place?

Breitbart News followed up on its inquiry with five phone calls to the press office and extended the deadline for responding several times. The final deadline was noon Tuesday.

In the OIG report the objectives and background reads, in part: 

To (1) determine whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) made payments to beneficiaries and representative payees who were deceased according to Puerto Rico Department of Health vital records and (2) identify non-beneficiaries who were deceased according to Puerto Rico vital records but whose death information did not appear in SSA records.

Puerto Rico Department of Health provided us a vital records data file of the personally identifiable information of approximately 568,000 numberholders who died in Puerto Rico from January 1992 through December 2016. We matched the data against SSA payment records and Numident.

“The Social Security Administration assigns Social Security numbers, and administers the Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance programs,” the federal USA.gov website stated. “They also administer the Supplemental Security Income program for the aged, blind, and disabled.”

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