Every year, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audits the Social Security Administration (SSA) and publishes its findings.
Fiscal audits dating to 1997 are available online. They reveal decades of waste and fraud within the system. Every year, audits target different samplings of states and groups, including the number of recipients both dead and alive, who are seniors, felons or the disabled, collecting benefits.
This month’s report found that the SSA issued $11.6 million in payments to a sampling of 149 beneficiaries and 4 representative payees who died in Puerto Rico from January 1992 through December 2016.
Previous reports follow a similar pattern.
A May 2017 report of a national sampling uncovered $20 million in improper payments made to 678 beneficiaries who were verified as deceased as of April 2017. The deceased were still receiving payments for 9 to 206 months after their dates of death were recorded in the SSA system.
A 2015 OIG annual report uncovered $46.8 million paid to Social Security recipients who were deceased.
In the report, the inspector general’s office said it was “concerned” that “noncitizens” were illegally obtaining and using Social Security numbers, and that more than 6 million Social Security number holders age 112 or older “had no death information.”
That year, the agency recovered $3.4 billion in overpayments, which cost 7 cents for every dollar to recover funds, and closed the year with $18.5 billion in uncollected payments.
In a 2013 audit, the OIG determined that the SSA had issued $31 million in improper payments to 2,475 beneficiaries although it had received notification they were deceased.
In a 2009 audit, the OIG determined that the SSA had issued $40 million in improper payments to more than 6,000 beneficiaries although it had received notification they were deceased.