The Social Security program is vital link in supporting retired Americans. But all too often, the program is exploited by fraudsters. Now we’ve learned of a shocking report that reveals millions of dollars have been wasted. You won’t believe where they went.
There are more than a few critics of the Social Security Administration. The program was designed to help Americans in need, especially senior citizens who can no longer work. The idea was that a person would “pay into” the program for 30-40 years. When they retired, they would have a nestegg from the government to fall back on.
It never worked out that way. Social Security takes plenty from workers’ paychecks, but dishes out very little for our retired Americans. Worse than that, crooks have found many ways to cheat the system. The most common way is by simply stealing the Social Security Numbers of retired Americans. Many elderly are conned over the phone by these crooks; they often just give out their numbers.
But a new report has revealed that a shocking amount of money—tens of millions—has been lost to crooks. How? It was given out, to dead people.
The Office of the Inspector General (IG) at the Social Security Administration (SSA) has released a March 2019 internal audit that sought to determine whether the SSA has been doling out benefits to dead people in Maryland and Michigan. The answer, as it turns out, is a resounding “yes.” Overall, the IG found that the SSA had paid out nearly $42 million to about 500 dead people…
As The Daily Caller also notes, a separate Texas-specific SSA audit found that nearly $25 million in Social Security payments had been given to 336 dead Texans. [Source: Daily Wire]
$42 million is no chump change. That is taxpayer money, being paid out to dead people. Now, you might be wondering how they can make this kind of error. Where is the money going?
Obviously not to the dead people. It’s yet another scam, draining money from people who could actually use it. Crooks acquire the Social Security Numbers of dead people—sometimes even from friends or relatives. They then collect benefits that would have gone to the dead person—if they were alive. Often these crooks aren’t even retired themselves and aren’t entitled to payments. In one case, a woman was collecting payments from someone who had died in 2000.
In another instance, a person had been collecting checks for a dead person since 1997. The person died in 1974.
This is shocking. That money was taken from hard-working Americans. It was meant to help elderly Americans who are in need, but cannot work anymore. Instead, these thieves were cashing checks and spending the money on themselves.
But how is this possible? How could a person be taking checks for over 20 twenty years, using a SSN from someone long dead? Why can’t our government do a better job of checking this? Don’t they have access to death certificates? It truly boggles the mind.
In order to save face, the SSA tried to fix the problem.
[W]e determined Maryland and Michigan death information was not always recorded on SSA’s records… Correcting these cases represents an opportunity for SSA to reduce its exposure to future overpayments and improve the accuracy and completeness of the death information it maintains.
As of January 9, 2019, SSA had suspended or terminated benefits and added death information to its records for 95 of the 145 beneficiaries. [Source: Daily Wire]
You’d think making sure their beneficiaries are still alive would be top priority for an agency that works with elderly people. Yet they had to conduct a specific audit—for just 160 accounts—to find these cases of fraud.
Mind you, they didn’t check every last account, just those 160. How many more cases of theft are going on, unfound? Probably way more than the SSA would like to admit.
The bottom line is that significant changes must take place to reduce fraud and lower costs. President Trump should spend some time looking into the SSA.