Federal Government Shelled Out $125B In Bogus Payments Last Year

Feds Shelled Out $125B In Bogus Payments Last Year – Washington Times

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The government paid out $124.7 billion in potentially bogus payments last year, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday, blaming a controversial tax credit for the poor as well as increased bad payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

One major problem is tracking when Americans die – the Social Security Administration admitted last week that its rolls are filled with names of more than 6 million folks who are listed as 112 years of age or older.

The Government Accountability Office said Social Security has trouble maintaining the Death Master File, and other agencies have difficulties in getting the information to update their own files and halt payments to those no longer alive to collect benefits.

SEE ALSO: Rand Paul emerges as the harshest GOP critic of Clinton emails

At the same time, being improperly listed on the Death Master File can cause nightmares, said Judy C. Rivers, a woman who has twice been erroneously listed, leaving her denied for jobs, rejected for apartments and forced to live in her car.

At one point she spent an hour haggling with a bank that was refusing to open an account for her but wouldn’t tell her why. Eventually the manager told Ms. Rivers her Social Security number had been listed by the federal agency as deactivated “due to death.”

“The Death Master File has been like a propagating hydra underlying all my problems,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

SEE ALSO: VA refusing to comply with Congress on transparency, reforms, lawmakers say

It took her four years to clear up enough of the problems that she was able to be approved for a credit card again.

Social Security’s inspector general said a 2008 investigation found more than 20,000 people who were wrongly listed in the death file.

The agency says its hands are tied and it must release some information about those in its death file in response to open-records requests, leaving those erroneously listed open to even more fraud if an unscrupulous actor gets their number and realizes they are still alive.

Social Security insists it hasn’t found an instance where someone’s identity was compromised solely because of being wrongly listed.

Sean Brune, senior adviser to the deputy Social Security commissioner, said less than half a percent of the 2.8 million new death reports they get each year are inaccurate.

The agency gets its information from banks, post offices, and federal and state agencies that pay out benefits, such as the Veterans Affairs Department or Medicare.

Social Security paid out a little more than $8 billion in improper payments last year, according to GAO investigators. The supplemental security income program had a 9.2 percent error rate, while the retirement benefits program had a much smaller error rate of four-tenths of a percent.

The biggest problems, however, came at Medicare, whose basic fee-for-service program paid out $45.8 billion in improper payments, or nearly 13 percent of its outlays, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which botched 27.2 percent of its payments, for a total of $17.7 billion, the GAO said.

Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and unemployment insurance rounded out the top five worst programs in terms of dollars spent on potentially bogus payments.

The government paid out $124.7 billion in potentially bogus payments last year, the government’s chief watchdog said Monday, blaming a controversial tax credit for the poor as well as increased bad payments in Medicare and Medicaid.

One major problem is tracking when Americans die – the Social Security Administration admitted last week that its rolls are filled with names of more than 6 million folks who are listed as 112 years of age or older.

The Government Accountability Office said Social Security has trouble maintaining the Death Master File, and other agencies have difficulties in getting the information to update their own files and halt payments to those no longer alive to collect benefits.

SEE ALSO: Rand Paul emerges as the harshest GOP critic of Clinton emails

At the same time, being improperly listed on the Death Master File can cause nightmares, said Judy C. Rivers, a woman who has twice been erroneously listed, leaving her denied for jobs, rejected for apartments and forced to live in her car.

At one point she spent an hour haggling with a bank that was refusing to open an account for her but wouldn’t tell her why. Eventually the manager told Ms. Rivers her Social Security number had been listed by the federal agency as deactivated “due to death.”

“The Death Master File has been like a propagating hydra underlying all my problems,” she told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

It took her four years to clear up enough of the problems that she was able to be approved for a credit card again.

Social Security’s inspector general said a 2008 investigation found more than 20,000 people who were wrongly listed in the death file.

The agency says its hands are tied and it must release some information about those in its death file in response to open-records requests, leaving those erroneously listed open to even more fraud if an unscrupulous actor gets their number and realizes they are still alive.

Social Security insists it hasn’t found an instance where someone’s identity was compromised solely because of being wrongly listed.

Sean Brune, senior adviser to the deputy Social Security commissioner, said less than half a percent of the 2.8 million new death reports they get each year are inaccurate.

The agency gets its information from banks, post offices, and federal and state agencies that pay out benefits, such as the Veterans Affairs Department or Medicare.

Social Security paid out a little more than $8 billion in improper payments last year, according to GAO investigators. The supplemental security income program had a 9.2 percent error rate, while the retirement benefits program had a much smaller error rate of four-tenths of a percent.

The biggest problems, however, came at Medicare, whose basic fee-for-service program paid out $45.8 billion in improper payments, or nearly 13 percent of its outlays, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which botched 27.2 percent of its payments, for a total of $17.7 billion, the GAO said.

Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and unemployment insurance rounded out the top five worst programs in terms of dollars spent on potentially bogus payments.

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